There were many tears shed by Nevada’s softball team Saturday afternoon after its series against Western Athletic Conference foe Brigham Young University. But they weren’t the result of being swept by the Cougars.
The three games marked the final regular season appearances for the team’s three seniors in Alex Arciniega, Kortnee Wiley and Mallary Darby. The numbers 2, 17 and 5 were sprayed into the grass just outside the infield in honor of the three seniors.
The result of the three games didn’t exactly do the occasion any justice. The first game on Friday was cut short by the mercy rule when BYU coasted to an 8-0 victory. The same thing happened in the first game of Saturday’s double header when Nevada was victim to a 10-0 drubbing by the Cougars.
The Wolf Pack was finally competitive in the final game but still fell 4-7. Despite the loss, there were some happy moments, including Arciniega starting her first game since suffering a badly sprained ankle in February. In addition to the start, the senior collected her first three hits of the season.
The four runs were the only scoring Nevada had during the series. Sophomore Sam Puzey batted in three of those runs. She had two hits in the final game, including a 2-run home run over the center field wall in the third inning.
Nevada’s struggles could be explained by the fact that the BYU hitters seemed to be one step ahead of the pitchers all series long, according to head coach Matt Meuchel.
“It was kind of a tough weekend as far as them beating our pitching around a little bit, “he said. “It was a little bit of a grind (because) they were able to call out every pitch we had.”
As for Darby, who started the game, things could have gone better for her final start. She pitched the full seven innings, threw over 100 pitches and gave up seven earned runs. Since she’s at the top of nearly every pitching category in Nevada softball history, Wolf Pack fans will forgive her.
“I don’t mind it at all, “she said. “It’s my last game I’m going to play in front of Reno. My pitch count was not something I was thinking about out there. The game stayed interesting so it wasn’t something I paid attention to.”
Even though this is her last season of eligibility, it won’t be the end of her softball career. Once she’s finished with school, she’ll play professional softball in the Netherlands.
Now that the regular season has ended, Nevada’s focus has turned to the post season WAC tournament. The Wolf Pack has earned the fifth seed despite the fact it has the second fewest total wins in the conference and will face the fourth seed in San Jose State in the first round. The game will take place Wednesday in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
If Nevada is to beat San Jose State, it will have to play much better than it did in early April when the Spartans took two of the three games here in Reno. Those two games were also cut short by the mercy rule. The Wolf Pack sandwiched a 1-0 win in the second game. Given the history between these two teams, Meuchel still has high expectations.
“Our expectations are to win the tournament, “he said. “We’re going out there to win the WAC tournament. Simply put, other than that, our season is over and we know that.”
He said that the team has played better as of late but will have to face one of the top pitchers in the conference to move on: Amanda Pridmore.
If there is one thing for sure about this time of year, it’s win or go home.