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Rail City rivalry heating up
by Aaron Retherford
Apr 29, 2009 | 765 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the first time ever, what look to be evenly-matched Spanish Springs and Reed teams will face off in a series that will likely settle who is the top softball team in the High Desert League and who will earn a No. 1 seed for the postseason.

But that’s not the most important aspect of the three-game series that starts today in Spanish Springs. The winner gets bragging rights and it’s a long time coming for Reed, which has been dominated by the Cougars the past four years, including lopsided losses in last year’s regional and state championship games.

On paper, this should play out as the closest contested meetings between the two Rail City rivals since Spanish Springs emerged as a powerhouse. The Raiders appeared to have an edge after rattling off 19 straight wins, but they now have 23-3 overall record and are 11-1 in league play following a loss to Reno last Friday.

The Cougars are 20-4 and are tied in the standings at 11-1. However, the Purple and Teal has not lost in the HDL since its league opener to Reno. The Cougars are eager for the upcoming matchup.

“We’re stoked. We have been waiting for this series all year,” SSHS senior outfielder and pitcher Ashley Collier said during a practice earlier this week.

Reed coach Ray Charles expects to get strong pitching, but solid defense will be the key for taking the series.

There is really only one given for the matchup. One team will earn the top seed and the other will settle for second. But with only one team earning a berth to the state tournament, seeding isn’t overly important as the two teams are headed for a potential rematch of last year’s regional championship.

“Obviously your goal at the start of the season is to qualify, and you want the best seed you can get because there’s no easy team in the playoffs,” Charles said. “It’s not the end of our season if we get dumped in that series. We’re not putting everything in it. But there’s a lot of pride involved. They want to win it, and we want to win it. We’re both competitors, so that’s what makes it interesting.”

This weekend’s upcoming baseball clashes between Reed and Spanish Springs are about much more than bragging rights. Both teams are fighting for their playoff livelihoods.

Even though the High Desert League traded three teams with the Sierra League prior to this school year, not much has changed in the HDL baseball world. With two weeks to play in the league season, the playoff picture is cloudy at best just like years past.

Two things are for certain. Reno is in and Elko is out. The Huskies can be penciled into the No. 1 spot. Barring a monumental collapse, Reno, which is 12-0, will win the regular season league title.

That leaves McQueen, Wooster, Spanish Springs, North Valleys and Reed to battle it out for three spots.

Despite being in third place at 7-8, Wooster is in the strongest position of those teams to make the postseason. The Colts own tiebreakers against Spanish Springs, McQueen and Reed. It also has just one league series left and that's with winless Elko.

Of the two Sparks schools, Spanish Springs is certainly better off at 7-5 compared to Reed’s 5-7 record, but technically this isn’t a must-win series for either team. However, if the Raiders were swept, they would be eliminated as long as Wooster wins one game at Elko.

Whichever squad takes the inter-city rivalry, will possess greater control of its own destiny, while the loser will have to rely on the other to an extent during next week’s season-ending series.

Reed closes out the season with North Valleys, while Spanish Springs has McQueen. Reed, North Valleys and Spanish Springs/McQueen could all end up tied for fourth, so the playoff picture may not come into focus until possibly the very last pitch next week.

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