The contest was deadlocked at zeros through three innings, but then the Cougars' lumber awoke from its early-game slumber. Spanish Springs banged out 10 hits in an eight-run fourth inning, blowing the game open.
Taylor Helton led off the big inning for Spanish Springs by roping a triple. She scored soon after on a Karlie Merritt single. Alyx Penrod and Amanda Barham followed with singles to saturate the sacks with Cougars. RBI singles by Kelsey Stroshine and Myrissa Prince plated two more Cougars, making the score 3-0.
A Sadye Roulund groundout and Ally Batastini single brought two more runs in, extending the Cougars' edge to 5-0. Run-scoring singles by Helton, Merritt and Penrod concluded the key rally.
"Taylor hit that triple and the team fed off of that," Cougars coach Jeff Davidson said. "Hitting is contagious and everybody started hitting line drives and hitting the ball down, all throughout the lineup."
Spanish Springs (21-4), which finished with 16 hits, was turned away without scoring in the fifth but it did tack on two more runs in the sixth, putting Nevada's 10-run mercy rule into effect and ending the lopsided affair. Aubrene Blas initiated the SSHS rally in the sixth when she reached on a fielder's choice. Barham singled and Brette Lawrence was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Prince ended the game with a two-run single.
Merritt, who has been Spanish Springs No. 3 pitcher throughout the spring campaign turned in a gem. The senior right-hander fired a one-hit, six-inning shutout at the visiting Tigers (14-10). She struck out seven and walked only one.
"I felt good out there," she said. "My curve and screw were working really well. The fact that our offense was hitting behind me gave me a lot of confidence. I was really hitting my spots well and my defense was great behind me."
The Spanish Springs defense did not commit an error, which helped Merritt's cause. However, she was definitely in a zone. The only hit she gave up was to Douglas No. 3 hitter Allison Meyer in the top of the first inning. Merritt issued the next Tigers' hitter a walk. Meyer reached second on that sequence but it was the only time all day a Douglas player advanced safely to second. After the walk, Merritt retired the final 16 Tigers she faced.
"We didn't have a real good approach offensively," Douglas coach Andy Mitchell said. "We were chasing a lot of balls away. We didn't put much in play or hit much hard. But you have to give their girl (Merritt) credit. She was the one throwing. She was really impressive."
Merritt got high praise from her own coach as well.
"She had great command of her pitches," Davidson said. "She located well all game long. She pitched ahead. That was the key. When you can do that, it makes you a better pitcher and it keeps your defense on its toes."
Spanish Springs returns to diamond action Thursday when it travels to Galena. First pitch is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.