Three games and three one-run outcomes. It was truly playoff softball at its very best. It's a shame somebody had to come out on the short end.
After losing 1-0 in the best-of-three opener on Friday, Fernley swept a doubleheader on Saturday, beating the Dust Devils 3-2 in 14 innings and 2-1 to win the series and qualify for next week's 3A state tournament at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.
"Those were both hard-fought games, and unfortunately, somebody had to lose," Dayton coach Dusti Houk said. "We were battling back and forth all day. As far as I was concerned both teams played great. It's too bad they can't take us both to state."
"I can't be prouder of the way the entire team played. They left it all on the field today. We couldn't have played any better or any harder."
Fernley senior Walita Querta pitched 14 innings of seven-hit ball and her two-out single in the 14th inning drove Brittany Stovall home with what proved to be the game-winning run. Then, in game two, the Vaqueros scored twice in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead, and Querta made it stand up.
Opposing pitchers Querta and Dayton junior Nicole Greer put on quite a show in the first game. Greer went the 14-inning distance, allowed six hits and no walks to go with eight strikeouts. Querta finished with 10 strikeouts and four walks.
"They pitched right there side-by-side, pitch-for-pitch," Houk said of Querta and Greer.
Fernley scored once in the top of the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Dayton answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning to tie the score.
Fernley scored again in the top of the seventh to go up 2-1. Dayton answered again in the bottom half of the inning when Lauren Fisher singled, took second on a passed ball, advanced to third on Bailey Garcia's sacrifice bunt and scored on an infield error.
Querta worked out of trouble in the ninth, retiring two batters with a runner on third.
"We had our opportunities, we just weren't able to capitalize," Houk said.
Then in the 14th, Stovall reached base on a leadoff single. She stole second, advanced to third on Kaylea Dunn's sacrifice bunt and scored on Querta's single into right field.
Jessie Ayres, a four-year starter in center field, went 3-for-5 with a double and one run scored to lead the Dust Devils offensively. Fisher also hit 2-for-5, while Keeli and Bailey Garcia contributed one hit each.
Querta went 2-for-6 for the Vaqueros.
Fisher started the nightcap, and the freshman got through the first inning without allowing a run. She was lifted in the second game when Fernley put runners on thanks to a single an an error. The Vaqueros managed get both runs across, which were credite to Fisher.
Dayton had scored in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Amanda Sbragia singled to start the two-out rally and then came all the way around to score when Jessie Ayres delivered a single that was misplayed in right field.
Dunn and Heidi Mathews both hit 2-for-3 to lead Fernley in the second game. Greer went 2-for-3 with a double.
Greer pitched the final six innings, and finished with three strikeouts and no walks. The right-hander threw 27 innings during the series and didn't walk anyone.
DAYTON BASEBALL IN LIMBO
The Dayton baseball team was tentatively scheduled to finish a suspended game against North Tahoe in the Northern 3A playoffs, but the game wasn't finished because North Tahoe had transportation problems. The two teams split the first two games of the series and North Tahoe was leading the third game 14-9 when the game was suspended by darkness.
The game could be finished Monday at Dayton or North Tahoe, with the Dust Devils having runners at first and third with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. If not, the game would revert back to the last completed inning and North Tahoe would win 13-9 and would go to the state tourney.