Unfortunately for Reed and its fans, Damonte Ranch — a team Reed beat twice in the regular season — beat the Raiders
twice in three days during postseason play last weekend. The end result was a Northern 4A crown for Damonte Ranch.
However, all was not lost for Reed. By reaching the tournament final, the Raiders still clinched a berth in this weekend’s 4A State Tournament, which will be played at the University of Nevada’s Hixson Softball Complex.
“It was disappointing we did not win regionals last weekend, but quite honestly, we didn’t deserve to get it,” Wunder said. “I hope that lights a bit of a fire under them going into this weekend. Now, we’ll see which team gets hot. Whose pitcher will throw well and which team is swinging a strong bat? It’s anybody’s game now.”
Reed (30-6) opens state play Thursday at 1 p.m. against Sunset Region champion Centennial (30-7). Damonte Ranch plays Sunrise Region champion Coronado in the other first-round tournament game at 3 p.m.
Reed and Centennial have some history. The Raiders and Bulldogs played for the state title in 2009 in Las Vegas. Reed came through the losers’ bracket and forced the if-game in the championship series before falling 7-4 in 11 innings of the title tilt.
“It will be a tough challenge,” Centennial coach Mike Livreri said of facing the Raiders. “Reed is a quality program. There’s some history there.
But Livreri admitted he doesn’t know much about the Raiders’ 2012 edition.
“To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot, just what I’ve seen on Maxpreps,” the Centennial skipper said, alluding to the Web site that tracks high school athletic programs across the country. “I know they’re a solid pitching team. They played a lot of low-scoring games and pitched a lot of shutouts, but I don’t know a whole lot after that.”
It should be a level playing field in terms of familiarity. Wunder said he’s far from knowledgeable about Centennial, saying his expertise on the CHS club is limited to what he’s seen on line and whatever else he could learn from a few coaches, who have played the Bulldogs.
“They’re big and strong,” Wunder said. “If you look at Maxpreps, they’ve got some good batting averages. They’re a power hitting team. I definitely think we’re going to see some good competition from the South.”
Wunder was right when he cited the Bulldogs’ long ball prowess. Centennial hitters have bashed 44 home runs this spring, including 16 by Heather Bowen.
Conversely, Reed has crushed just nine homers this season. Centennial has scored 366 runs in its 37 games compared to Reed’s 214. That disparity may mean relatively little, considering Reed plays in pitching-rich northern Nevada.
Northern 4A foes have dominated southern Nevada foes in state softball competition. A Las Vegas-area school has won the state softball title just three times since 1993, although Centennial does deserve some respect having won two of the three titles by Clark County schools (2004, 2009). Additionally, the Bulldogs have some playoff experience, having reached the state championship game last year before falling to Palo Verde.
The 2011 state tournament was played in Las Vegas.
“Last year’s experience has got to help us,” Livreri said. “But I know it’s a different experience going up to the North. Hitting the road is a difficult deal. Last year’s run left a bad taste in our mouths. We’re definitely hungry for this opportunity.
“This trip is something that’s got to be discussed. We must stay focused and talk about what we’re there to do. We’re going to play softball, not just take a road trip.”
Reed’s offense eluded it a bit at regionals. The Raiders did not score more than three runs in any of their six playoff games. Wunder said that will have to change if his club wants to make a run at a state title in the coming days. The Raiders’ coach said hitting has been the primary focus in workouts this week.
“We’ve got to hit,” Wunder said. “Through the whole tournament last weekend, we only had two or three kids hitting consistently. We need more kids to hit and our defense has got to get better. That’s something I’ve lauded us for all year, but last weekend we made two or three errors a game.” I’m sure they’d like to get us.”