In Game 1 of the Mount Rose League doubleheader, Sparks was in control for most of the game once it took the lead in the third, but the hosts needed a seventh-inning rally to secure the victory.
After watching South Tahoe keep its hopes alive with a game-tying fourth-run rally in the top of the seventh, Sparks first baseman Miranda Bush almost ended the game with one swing of the bat. Instead, Bush’s deep bomb went for a leadoff double.
It wasn’t looking good that the runner would score though. Madi Locke was able to reach base on an infield single, after not being able to execute a sacrifice bunt.
An infield popup went for the first out, failing to advance either runner from first or second. Sparks lucked out when South Tahoe catcher Kayla Griffis tried to pick off Locke at first and the throw went all the way down the right-field line, enabling pinch runner Martha De La Riva to rumble home for the winning run from second.
“We played a good game, but we lost intensity,” Sparks softball coach Frank Avilla said. “We’re getting a lot better. But it’s like when they watch other kids who are well versed in the game take breaks, so they decide they want to take a break. We can’t do that. We’re not good enough to take breaks. We need to play fundamentally sound the entire game.”
The Vikings did score first, but couldn’t maintain their lead.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning, Sparks loaded the bases with pitcher Jocelyn Vasquez coming to the plate. Vasquez hit a slow roller, making the second baseman range to her left. The grounder wasn’t fielded cleanly and then the throw to first got past the first baseman, allowing a second run to score on the play.
The Railroaders kept rolling. An infield groundout plated a third run, and Madi Locke followed with an RBI double down the left-field line, leaving Sparks with a 4-1 edge.
The Vikings cut the deficit to 4-2 in the top of the fourth when Kayla Griffis led off with a single and swiped second base. Isabella Castillo drove her in with a hard grounder up the middle.
Sparks posted a three-spot in the bottom half of the inning to go up by a 7-2 score.
Back-to-back walks by the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters and Michelle Cardenas’ second single of the game loaded the bases for Sarah Hanson, who ripped a two-run single through the right side of the infield.
A sacrifice fly by Riley Regas made it a 7-2 ballgame after four innings of play.
But South Tahoe made it interesting. An error allowed a runner on base with two outs in the top of the sixth, and Danica Davis knocked her in with a single, bringing the visiting team within four runs.
Sparks still looked poise to come away with the victory, but the top of the seventh was a disaster.
A leadoff bunt single by Brittany Sanchez started a rally. An infield error allowed that run to score.
After the Railroaders recorded the second out, Griffis singled on an infield popup behind the pitcher’s circle. Two runs then scored on a grounder that went under the first baseman’s glove, bringing South Tahoe to within one run, 7-6.
The Vikings tied the game up at 7-7 when Brittany Harper blasted a triple to the base of the fence in center field.
Unfortunately for South Tahoe, it gave the game away in the bottom of the seventh.
In the nightcap, Sparks scored in the second and third on RBI singles by Marissa Cossio and Lachelle Clem. But that was the high point for the Railroaders, who could not get an out in the fifth and sixth innings as South Tahoe rallied for seven in the fifth and nine in the sixth to send everyone home early via the 10-run mercy rule.
Sparks (9-10, 5-3) takes on Incline Wednesday in a twin bill.