On Thursday, the Cougars ran their win streak to 27 games by opening the postseason with a five-inning mercy-rule romp over Galena. Spanish Springs, the High Desert League's top seed, made a lopsided game even uglier by scoring eight runs in the fourth inning and blowing out the fourth-seeded Grizzlies, 19-0, in a first-round contest of the Northern 4A Tournament at Bishop Manogue High School.
Spanish Springs (29-2) advances to a winners' bracket game of the double-elimination tourney today at noon against Manogue.
"That first game is over. Now we have to worry about tomorrow," Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said. "You have to take it one game at a time and to me this is like single elimination. You have to play like it's your last game."
Galena was no match for the defending state champions. Spanish Springs pitchers faced just two batters over the minimum and no-hit the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, the SSHS offense scored seemingly at will.
Cougars ace Danica Arterburn worked the first four innings in the circle. She faced just one hitter over the minimum and that came after an error on a dropped fly ball at third base. Arterburn struck out eight and did not give up a walk all without allowing a hit. Kaytlin Ripa tossed a hitless fifth in a mop-up role. She fanned one and issued one free pass.
The Spanish Springs offense hit its stride early, posting a trio of first-inning runs. Bella Rovens doubled and scored when Dani Smith followed with a double. Two outs later, Brette Lawrence and Myrissa Prince ripped back-to-back doubles, leaving the Cougs on top 3-0.
In the second, Spanish Springs added two more runs. Kayla Arterburn walked and Rovens reached on an error. Both scored when Smith drilled her second double of the day.
Spanish Springs blew the game open in the third by plating six more runs. With one out, Prince reached on an error and Julianna Waller mashed a two-run homer. From there, Ripa singled as did Kayla Arterburn. Rovens was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Smith doubled again to clear the bases. A double off the fence by Darby scored Smith and capped the six-run outburst.
The big inning pushed the Spanish Springs lead to double digits, 11-0.
The Cougars kept pouring it on, adding an eight-run fourth frame. Kayla Arterburn and Smith had run-scoring singles in the outburst. but Darby and Prince had the big knocks in the inning, crushing a grand slam and solo homer respectively.
Spanish Springs finished with 17 hits in the one-sided affair, including 10 for extra bases.
"Even before we started hitting the home runs, we were hitting line drives and hard ground balls. The girls know what they have to do to be successful," Davidson said.