Thus, it's not much of a surprise that the two teams dominated the HDL's postseason awards parade released this week. Eleven Cougars and nine Raiders were named all-league in one fashion or another. The two teams also swept the league's top individual awards.
In his 11th season at the helm of the Reed High softball program, Ray Charles guided the Raiders to High Desert League and Northern 4A titles as well as a second-place state finish. The east Sparks school's 37-7 record wasn't too shabby either. For his coaching efforts, Charles was named the HDL's coach of the year.
"I am honored and yet it is the accomplishment of my team and that is what I am proud of most," Charles said. "Coach of the year is a representation of my team and my assistant coaches."
The two schools saw their top hurlers share the league's pitcher-of-the-year honor. Reed senior Chelsea Cohen and Spanish Springs junior Karlyn Jones were the recipients.
"It is a year-to-year award but Chelsea has been our number one for a long time and she has always pitched our big games," Charles said of his ace right-hander. "She deserves this award. She is just a special student-athlete to have on our team and I have been blessed to be a small part of her career. I have enjoyed it immensely."
At SSHS, Jones finished the season with a 0.88 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 158 innings pitched. She also racked up 20 wins, 10 by shutout. Jones was no slouch at the plate either. She hit .519 with a team-leading 33 RBIs.
"Karlyn's ERA was outstanding. She kept us in just about every game," Cougars fourth-year coach Jeff Davidson said. "She not only did it on the mound but at the plate as well. She really just had a phenomenal year."
Spanish Springs junior shortstop, Ashley Decker, was named the HDL player of the year by conference coaches. Decker, who handled the leadoff chores for the Cougars all season, hit .618 with 68 hits, three homers and 23 stolen bases. She had a .679 on base percentage.
"We asked Ashley to hit a lot this year instead of bunt. She may have had an even better batting average if she'd bunted more," Davidson. "She was the player other teams tried to stop."
Reed put five players on the HDL's first team. Senior Tia Wunder was made the first team as an outfielder and RHS junior shortstop Booke Silva was named in the infield. Sophomore Destinee Levesque was picked as a pitcher while Kristy Pasley was named as a utility player and Sydney Jones as the designated hitter.
"Tia in my eyes was the best outfielder in the league and the most complete player of all the outfielders," Charles said. "Brooke had a tremendous year fielding and hitting for the Raiders. This is the area with a lot of talent so it's a pretty big honor with all the infielders our league had. Destinee had a tremendous year for us. She is definitely one of the area's top pitchers and look out for her in the future.
"This is where our league is so great to recognize the talent in our league. Kristy could have very easily been a first-team infielder as well. And Sydney had a great year hitting for us and had some quality series with teams. Our representation of first-team all-league selections speaks volumes of what type of kids we had. They worked hard and were a great team, truly one of the best ever at Reed."
Spanish Springs saw two players get first-team nods. Senior outfielder Ashley Collier did so thanks to a season where she hit .400 with four home runs. Junior second baseman Karley Hopkins grabbed the first-team honors with an infield slot. Hopkins, who manned the No. 2 hole in the Cougars' lineup, hit .480 and her 32 RBIs ranked her second on the team.
"Ashley (Collier) has been a key part of our success for three years and she's been one of our key hitters in driving in runs," Davidson said. "Karley hit second for us and was second in RBIs. In over 110 at-bats, she struck out three times. She did a great job."
Spanish Springs also put six players on the second team. Sophomore Morgan Frey (.430 avg.) and junior Stevie Trevino (.339 avg.) were second-team outfielders, while junior Karly Hall (.439 avg., 33 RBI, 6 HR) and senior Courtney Darby (.391 avg.) were second-team infielders. Sophomores Kaytlin Ripa (.438 avg.) and Danica Arterburn (.380 avg.) were named to the second team at DH and utility respectively.
"We had quite a few players selected. That's a credit to the athletes in our program. I was very happy the selections this year," Davidson said.
Reed's senior second baseman Erica McKenzie was also a second-team infield selection.
Additionally, Reed and Spanish Springs had a player on the honorable mention list - senior Tess Oliphant for Reed and sophomore Sydney Darby for Spanish Springs.
•At Sparks High, the Railroaders softball squad struggled through a tough spring campaign but a pair of SHS players still garnered 3A North all-league consideration.
Sparks juniors Kristina Avilla and Ally Tallman were both recognized by the league's coaches after standout seasons. Avilla was a 3A North second team utility player, while Tallman took home an honorable mention award.