By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
With three games last week, including the first league game coming against a top tier opponent, the Moapa Valley High School softball team got back into the swing of things in a hurry.
The Pirates started off their week on Tuesday, April 3, with a road contest against the Cheyenne Desert Shields. The Pirates came out appearing a bit slow after their time off. The hits just weren’t coming easy.
Cheyenne would lead 2-0 going into the fourth inning before the Pirates finally exploded with a six run inning.
With a 6-2 deficit, the Desert Shields answered immediately to make it 9-6.
It would be 11-6 before the sixth inning when the Pirates caught fire once again. It was a remarkable grand slam by sophomore Abbie Evans that gave the Pirates the lead. They would never give that lead up after an inning that tallied ten runs in total.
Evans finished with six RBIs and Lainey Cornwall would also add two.
The Pirates would leave with a 16-11 victory over Cheyenne.
“We were hitting the ball hard and making things happen,” head coach Matt Messer said. “It puts pressure on the defense and they had a couple of errors and we kept running the bases. It was like a switch flipped when Abbie did that for us.”
On Thursday, the Pirates would return home to take on Desert Pines. In this one, the game never had the chance to even get close. The Pirates would circle the bases seemingly without stopping for two innings as the Jaguars frantically tried to catch up.
The game would end before the third inning did. The final score would be 20-4.
Sierra Harding finished 2 for 3 with four RBIs, and Hanna Mortensen finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Aria Messer added a pair of triples.
While there was room for excitement about the two prior games, the Pirates had tunnel vision directed towards one game last week: their first shot at Boulder City. Moapa would head on the road Friday to face the Eagles at their place in a rivalry still fresh in both sides’ memories.
According to Coach Messer, his team was a bit different before the game than usual. “The girls were uncharacteristically quiet warming up for the game,” Messer said. “I think there was a bit of nerves because Boulder is a good team, but it was different.”
The Pirates were focused, and it showed early. In the first inning, an early run set the tone. Then after a quiet few innings, the Pirates struck again with two more in the fourth inning to make the score 3-0.
The Eagles answered with two of their own to keep it close. However, they would never lead in the game.
Moapa Valley added two insurance runs before the seventh inning to give themselves a 5-2 lead they’d never let slip. After averaging 18 runs a game in their two earlier games, it was the Pirates’ defense that stood at the forefront of their biggest matchup yet.
“We played flawless defense,” Messer said. “It was the best defensive game we’ve had and came against a pretty good team. I can’t say enough about it.”
The focus Messer noted before the game never faltered either, even when the game came to a close. “They acted like we’d done it before,” Messer said. “They just took care of their business. They’re usually pretty loose but they were really focused and matter of fact even after we won.”
“They’re confident and they’re competitors and they were in the zone to begin with.” Messer added. “It carried throughout the game.”
At the helm on the defensive side was junior pitcher Emilie Barraza, who impressed fans with a two run performance against one of her team’s top competitors.
“She’s back to her normal self and had four strikeouts and only one walk,” Messer said. “It’s good to see Emilie back to her old form.”
Looking long term, Messer described the impact such a win could have on the team’s confidence. “It was huge for us because we got that one out of the way out on the road and we’ll likely see them again in the playoffs,” Messer said. “To be able to go to their place and win and never even trail is a huge confidence builder.”
The Pirates are able to start their regular season with a comfortable 1-0 record, and look forward to seeing the Eagles make their way to MVHS in the coming weeks.