Pat Kelley likes to take his Lincoln County High softball team to the Centennial High Spring Jamboree over spring break in Las Vegas.
Yes, they played a number of California teams as half of the entrants are from California in three different tournament groups, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
And yes, Lincoln might lose quite a few games, lost four of five this year, but Kelley says the good competition from schools of 1,500 enrollment or more is helpful to his own team.
Lincoln County tired out after five games in three days, so by the time of their final game of the tourney on Saturday, although they started out strong, in the later innings they tired and gave up the lead they once held.
“I was hoping they would stay stronger, but they wilted at the last. We need to work harder on our stamina, be in better shape,” Kelley said.
He knows that will be necessary with about a month left in the season, including regional and state playoffs. “We’ll have to work harder with running in practice to get the legs stronger,” he said. “We’re looking to keep on plugging and get better.”
Lincoln faced some good teams with good hitters who put the ball in play at the Vegas tourney. That’s what Kelley said he wanted his team to see, and they did. Lincoln pitcher Chelsea Lloyd said she and Aspen Wilkin have about four or five pitches, “and everything we threw, they hit it.”
The Lynx opened the tourney last Thursday and suffered a 4-1 loss to Liberty of Las Vegas, getting only three hits and having seven strikeouts. Lincoln’s only run was provided by a home run from Aspen Wilkin.
On Friday, in their first game of the day, the Lynx lost to Chaminade (Calif.) 3-2 in four innings when a last inning rally fell short. Neither team had many hits; Chaminade only four and Lincoln with two.
Lincoln’s second Friday game was with Bell (Calif.). Wilkin and Lloyd combined for a four-hitter to lead the Lynx past the 3-1 Eagles in a Bronze Bracket quarterfinal. Wilkin gave up one run in six innings before Lloyd pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
Kaylee Teel was 2-for-3 with a double, and Tanji Tibbitts went 2-for-3 for Lincoln County, which scored all of its runs in the fourth inning.
Saturday morning paired Lincoln with Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro, Calif.) (17-5), which blitzed the Lynx with nine runs in the bottom of the first and the eventual Bronze bracket winners cruised to a 12-3 victory in six innings.
The final game on Saturday for Lincoln was against Desert Oasis of Las Vegas.
Teel had a two-run homer and Bailey Free had a three-run homer for the Lynx in the first inning to take a 5-1 lead. Free also had a solo home run in a later inning.
But Meagan Anders was 4-for-5 with a triple and a double as the Diamondbacks (5-9) made a comeback with five runs in the sixth inning to hold a 13-10 lead.
Lincoln got a couple back, but Desert Oasis tacked on three more runs in the seventh to secure a 16-12 win.
Lincoln (14-6) played a non-league game with White Pine on Tuesday and hosts The Meadows (6-10) on Friday.