RENO — Pat Kelley has been coaching Lincoln County teams for the past half-century.
At age 72, the Lynx softball coach will step away after this weekend.
If Thursday’s game was any indication, the Lynx just might send Kelley out on top, albeit not without a few anxious moments.
The two-time defending Division III state champions potentially are two wins away from another crown after holding on for a 4-3 win over Pershing County in the opening round of the state tournament at UNR’s Hixson Park.
“I don’t think about it,” Kelley said. “It’s all for the girls, and we just go one game at a time.”
Lincoln County (24-8), which will meet Yerington (24-4) in the winners’ bracket final at 5 p.m. Friday at Shadow Mountain in Sparks, came out of the gates strong.
Kia Phillips’ RBI triple keyed a three-run first inning, and Easton Tingey tacked on an RBI single in the second to give the Lynx a 4-0 lead.
But Lincoln County managed just four hits after the second inning and didn’t get another runner to third base after stranding Tingey there in the second.
“You could see that it was very important that we jumped out quick,” Kelley said. “But then we just died (offensively). I don’t know what happened. We just quit hitting the ball.”
That gave the Mustangs (28-5) a chance to come back.
Mackenzie Burke homered to lead off the fourth to cut the gap to 4-1, and the Mustangs threatened again in the seventh.
Bailey Wanner singled with one out and scored on Colbey Wanner’s triple.
Erica Holland’s RBI grounder to third made it 4-3, but Lincoln County pitcher Josie Burgess got a grounder back to the circle to end the game.
Burgess allowed eight hits and two walks and struck out five.
“She’s been great all year long,” Kelley said. “She’s just steady. We get on her back and try to ride her.”
Pershing County (28-5) faces Needles (20-6) in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Friday.
Yerington 7, Needles 0— Macaella Martinez tossed a three-hitter to lead the Lions by the Mustangs in the other first-round game.
Martinez struck out six and worked around six walks.
Yerington broke a scoreless tie with three unearned runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Erika Welty was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Yerington.
Nicole Hooper was 1-for-3 with a double for Needles.
Pahranagat Valley 10, Eureka 2 — Ashlyn Wadsworth threw a one-hitter with four strikeouts, and the Panthers took advantage of nine errors to defeat the Vandals at Shadow Mountain in Sparks.
Pahranagat (24-7) advances to face Wells (22-6-1) in the winners’ bracket final at 8 a.m. Friday at UNR’s Hixson Park.
Madison Harris had a double and two RBIs for the Panthers, who scored eight runs in the second inning.
Annette Hayward had Eureka’s lone hit.
Wells 10, Indian Springs 8 — The Leopards outlasted the Thunderbirds at Shadow Mountain in Sparks.
Eureka 9, Indian Springs 0 —The Vandals shut out the Thunderbirds (15-8) in an elimination game at Shadow Mountain in Sparks.