Pahranagat Valley High School’s (PVHS) softball team won a state record seventh consecutive 1A championship.
It was hard work as they had to climb out of deep holes in their two games with North League champion Smith Valley. However, Southern League MVP Morgan Harris led the way with six RBIs during the championship May 18 to retain the title in an 18-14 come-from-behind win over Smith Valley and end the season on a 13-game win streak.
It was the first time PVHS and Smith Valley had met in softball since 2006 and the first time Smith Valley (15-8) had been in the tournament finals since 1999.
Panther coach Mike Sparrow said, “I don’t really have any concern that we can’t score runs. I knew we could put up runs. I just told the girls that we couldn’t try to do too much. It was just one base runner at a time, just get the ball down, hit it hard.”
PVHS quickly dispatched Coleville 15-0 on Thursday to open the tournament at Moapa Valley High School in Overton.
Mariah Zander pitched her third no-hitter of the season for the Lady Panthers. She struck out five and walked two.
Catcher Rebecca Taylor led the girls by driving in four runs. She was 3-for-4 at the plate. She had RBI hits on two singles in the first and second innings, then a double in the fourth inning when the Panther girls scored 10 runs to end the game victorious.
Morgan Harris also had a solo home run that inning.
Facing Smith Valley in the Friday semifinals tested PVHS greatly.
Though they fell behind at the very beginning, down 6-0 after two innings, they kept chipping away. As Coach Sparrow said, “We’ll get runs back as we hit the ball. ”
And they did, scoring five runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to take a 12-6 lead.
In the fourth, one run scored on an error, then Kaitlyn Higbee hit a three-run RBI double. In the fifth inning, Morgan Harris, Jessica Brede and Higbee had run scoring hits.
Smith Valley then beat Coleville 18-3 in the loser’s bracket final for the right to play PVHS in the Saturday championship.
Once again, the Panthers initially dug themselves a deep hole.
Zander struggled with nerves, she admitted, surrendering five runs on only one hit, and issuing five walks. The Lady Panthers also committed two run scoring errors.
Kalee Higbee was then sent in to pitch the third inning. She lasted one inning, allowed three runs, no hits and walked four.
Zander reentered the game in the fourth inning and went the rest of the way.
Pahranagat (26-2) then uncorked their bats, scored four runs in their half of the third inning and six in the fourth to take a 13-10 lead.
Leadoff batter Harris went 3-for-5 in the game with two doubles.
“Her first at bat was like yesterday [Friday],” Sparrow said, “and it was like ‘Uh oh.’ But she starting ripping the ball, and the bottom of our order really did well.”
Taylor Higbee was 2-for-4 with four runs and three RBIs, and Mariah Zander was 1-for-3 with a double and three RBIs for the Lady Panthers.
Pahranagat’s seven straight state softball title is the most in any classification in Nevada. They have nine overall.
“Every year you go through your highs and lows,” Sparrow said. “These kids just kept working. We came into each practice with a plan, and they executed the plan so well that we would end up ending practices early. They just really worked hard.”
Cassidy Still was 1-for-5 with three RBIs for the Bulldogs.
The 26-2 mark is the best record for PVHS softball under Coach Sparrow who came in 2000, after winning a 3A state title at Spring Creek High near Elko.