RENO — Pahranagat Valley’s softball team sent just one batter more than the minimum to the plate in the first five innings Thursday.
Solid pitching by Kennedy Huntsman kept the Panthers in the lead, and a sixth-inning uprising made sure they stayed there.
The Panthers scored four times in the sixth inning and held off a late charge by Wells for a 5-1 victory in the opening round of the Division IV state tournament at UNR’s Hixson Park.
Pahranagat Valley (23-4) will meet Eureka (25-1) in the winners’ bracket final at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Bishop Manogue.
“It sure is a good feeling to get that first win out of the way,” said Pahranagat Valley coach Mike Sparrow. “That was good softball. There was a lot of three-up, three-down. It’s what you like to see at this time of the year.”
Wells pitcher Katlyn Del Rio retired the first 10 Panther hitters before Bailee Hosier singled just past the second baseman and eventually came around to score on a passed ball.
The Panthers carried the 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth before finally stringing hits together.
An infield single by Merinna Scott started the rally, and Jade Jewett followed with a single off Del Rio’s glove. Brook Higbee beat out a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.
Hosier’s looping single into short left plated one run. Higbee then scored from second on Huntsman’s fielder’s choice grounder to first.
A sacrifice fly by Jamie Hansen made it 4-0, and Traci Strong capped the rally with a single behind second base. The Panthers scored four runs, hitting only two balls to the outfield.
“We talked all week about all phases of the game, including the short game,” Sparrow said. “We just got a runner on, and then we started playing some small ball. We executed some bunts. We’ve got some girls who can run.”
Huntsman had minimal trouble in the first five innings, throwing just 49 pitches.
“She really can hit her spots,” Sparrow said. “She was able to hit her spots, and she kept them off-balance a little bit.”
She pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth. The Leopards (17-6) threatened in the seventh, scoring once and having two runners on with one out, but Huntsman got Holly Seech to fly out to short center field, and after a stray throw, the Panthers still doubled Kenedy Craft off of second to end the game.
“We had some outfield play that was a lot of fun to watch,” said Sparrow, whose team also threw out a runner at home on a single to left field in the first inning.
Huntsman allowed six hits, walked three and struck out three.
Hosier was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for the Panthers.
Eureka 8, Indian Springs 1 — C.C. Brown and Angela Porter each hit an inside-the-park home run to lead the Vandals by the Thunderbirds.
Brown went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs, and Porter was 1-for-3 with two RBIs for Eureka.
Hannah Thormahlen was 2-for-3 for Indian Springs (9-10), which will meet Wells in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Manogue.