Nevertheless, the 72-year old Kelley concluded a stellar coaching legacy with two softball titles and runner-up finishes in 2016, 2012 and 2009. He also had two state girls basketball championships at Lincoln in 1990 and 1991. “I’ve had some really great students and athletes over the years,’ he said.
The Lynx softball team, the two-time defending state champions, went into this year’s state tournament in Reno as the odds on favorite, and did win their first two games, giving themselves the advantage.
But as happened with Lincoln the past two years, they were again extended to a two-game set on championship Saturday. In 2014 and 2015, they came out the winners. Not this year.
Instead, Pershing County won their very first state title win with 13-0 and 7-5 wins over the Lynx.
Lincoln, (25-10), opened the state tournament Thursday edging Pershing County 4-3. Kia Phillips’ RBI triple sparked a three-run third inning and Easton Tingey added another RBI in the fourth for a 4-0 lead. “We jumped out quick,” Kelley said, “but then we just died offensively.”
Pershing came back, but the Lynx held on as pitcher Josie Burgess got a grounder back to the mound and made the throw to first for the final out of the game.
On Friday, Lincoln faced perennial powerhouse Yerington, and beat the Lions 11-1. Phillips was 2-for-3 with a double, a homerun and five RBIs in the five inning game.
Pershing County knocked out Needles 7-0, then edged Yerington, 7-6, to advance to the championship game with Lincoln.
But the Mustangs (32-5) came ready for a cat fight on Saturday and hammered out 29 hits in the two-game set, 16 in the first game, 13 in the second. Lincoln could manage only 13 hits in the two games. They just couldn’t find any offense as Pershing jumped out to an 8-0 lead after three innings the first game.
Pershing County pitcher Colbey Wanner threw two complete games with a total of 13 strikeouts, seven in the second game.
Phillips doubled and tripled for Lincoln and teammates Burgess and Cameron Lloyd each added a double. Lloyd had triple in the first game.
Tied at 5 in the deciding game, Erica Holland scored the go-ahead run from second base in the sixth inning on a single by Itatty Espinoza and added an insurance run in the seventh inning.