Forget extra batting helmets or softballs.
By the midway point of its season, Faith Lutheran’s softball team was scrounging up icepacks and bandages. So banged up were the Crusaders, they had to pull out of a spring break tournament or risk running out of healthy bodies.
The Crusaders still play with runners hobbling around the bases and a batter swinging from the opposite side of the plate to protect her arm.
And they simply couldn’t be happier.
Walking wounded and all, Faith Lutheran is headed to the Class 3A state tournament. The Crusaders (16-16) will face two-time defending state champion Fernley (28-4) in the first round of the four-team, double-elimination tournament at noon Friday at Faith Lutheran.
“We’re all still playing with something wrong,” shortstop Maya Barnes said. “But everyone keeps working hard. It makes it a joy to play for this team.”
It has made practices a bit challenging, though.
“It’s been very difficult,” Crusader coach Kelli McCoy said. “At practice, we have certain kids who can’t run, certain kids who can’t field and certain kids who can’t throw. They’ve worked through it. Through their injuries, they’ve persevered.”
Outfielder Michele Beatty just returned to the lineup for the Southern League playoff series after a near 20-game absence. She went 6-for-9 with seven RBIs in the final two games of the series but had trouble running.
The Crusaders will need to be as close to full strength as possible to contend for a title they’ve never won.
“They’ve had to overcome a lot of things to get where they are,” McCoy said. “They’ve earned it.”
Boulder City (30-3) will meet Spring Creek (20-14) in the other first-round game at 2 p.m. The title game is scheduled for noon Saturday.
In first-round games of the Class 2A tournament Friday at Mountain View, Lincoln County (23-11) will meet Battle Mountain (23-6) at 10 a.m. and Needles (19-5) will play Pershing County at noon.
In first-round games of the Class 1A tournament at 4 p.m. today at Majestic Park, Lake Mead (14-16-1) will face Carlin (17-8-1) and Pahranagat Valley (18-8-1) will meet Wells (15-12-1).