For the second time in school history, the Pahranagat Valley Lady Panthers have won the girls Triple Crown by being state champions in volleyball, basketball, and softball in the same school year.
The girls completed the task with two thrilling and dramatic come-from-behind wins over Wells in the 1A State Tournament May 17-19 at North Valleys High School in Reno.
The first win on Friday, and the next win on championship Saturday, gave the Lady Panthers their third state championship of the school year after the girls beat Wells in the 1A State Basketball Championship in February and Owyhee in volleyball last November.
It is the fourth consecutive year the Lady Panthers have bested the Lady Leopards in softball, but this time they did not have to win two games on the final day like they did in 2016 and 2017.
No other school has achieved six consecutives titles in any classification. Yerington, Needles, and Wooster each have four in a row, but now Pahranagat Valley has six.
It was also the 12th straight year a team from the 1A Southern Division brought home the title. The last Northern team was Carlin in 2006.
The Pahranagat girls recorded their first Triple Crown in the 2014-15 school year.
And again this time, they did it in most dramatic fashion, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for the thrilling 10-9 victory.
“Surprised, shocked, amazed, I guess there’s a lot of adjectives you can put in there,” Panther coach Mike Sparrow said. “I’ve been coaching these girls long enough to know that they never quit and give up, and they’re ready to go score some more runs each opportunity they get.”
The Lady Panthers looked like they were breezing along in the finals, but Leopards can pounce just as suddenly as Panthers.
Pahranagat (22-6) scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning with two outs, after the umpire ruled that a strikeout was not caught as the ball rolled to the backstop, but three Wells players, thinking it was a strike, walked off the field. The batter, Jessica Brede, reached first base safely and Wells had to return to the field for the inning to continue. The Panthers scored four more runs for a 5-1 lead.
Leopards also sneak up on their prey also and Wells (22-5) did just that. Trailing 6-3 in the sixth inning, they scored six runs. Two singles, a two-run error, a fielder’s choice, and a run-scoring double grabbed the team a 9-6 lead.
Pahranagat got one back in the bottom of the sixth to trail 9-7.
Pitcher Ashlyn Wadsworth set the Leopards down in order in the top of the seventh to set the stage for a furious last-at-bat rally.
“That top of seven inning was huge for us,” Sparrow said. “Three up, three down is momentum. We had just lost momentum, but it was beautiful to see it come around again for us and see these kids be successful.”
Brede led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, and Wadsworth doubled her home. Another passed ball on a third strike by Wells catcher Liala Jackson allowed Wadsworth to score the tying run.
With two out and a runner on third, Morgan Harris hit a three-hopper ground ball to third base. The fielder bobbled the ball a bit and threw low to the first baseman who dropped the ball and Emily Hansen scored the winning run.
Harris said, “I was thinking to get it in play, base hit, they’ll score. I was so confident with the team, so I thought we were going to come out with the win anyway.”
It brought to a close a very special experience for the four-year senior players on Pahranagat softball team; they have never known anything other than a state championship, memories that can never be washed away.
Wadsworth said that because of the early lead turning into a late deficit and the dramatic ending, this was her favorite game. “It’s definitely at the top. We didn’t back down. We’re Panthers and we don’t back down.”
The Lady Leopards hurt themselves a lot on the day, committing 11 errors in the game.
Sparrow has had his share of playing Wells in championship games. This is the sixth time he has faced them and his team has won it four times. “My first 1A State Title game was against Wells in 2001 and we lost.”
The Leopards’ last championship was in 2004.
Just the day before, on Friday, Wadsworth spun a two-hitter, and Pahranagat capitalized on a three-base error and a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull out a thrilling 2-1 win over Wells in the winners’ bracket semifinal. The loss snapped Wells’ 22-game win streak.
Wadsworth and Wells’ pitcher Samantha Shamblin each carried a shutout into the sixth inning.
Both teams scored in the sixth inning.
In the Panthers’ last-at-bat, Harris’ one-out single to left set the stage for Karley Whipple, who bunted toward third. An error on the play allowed Harris to score and Whipple to reach third. Whipple then scored on a passed ball.
Wadsworth struck out six and walked five. She stranded the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base to end the game.
Shamblin struck out three and walked two.
The first day of the tourney, May 17, Pahranagat dispatched Coleville, a team they had not played since 2006, by a 13-3 score.
Class 1A Honors
State champion Pahranagat Valley dominated the Class 1A girls softball honors again this year. As voted by the coaches, the Lady Panthers placed seven on the first team and catcher Madalyn Taylor was named league co-MVP along with Aspen Avery of Indian Springs.
P–Ashlyn Wadsworth, Pahranagat Valley; Blaze Snegirev, Tonopah. C–Kayla Noyes, Indian Springs. 1B–Kaitlyn Davis, Pahranagat Valley; Faith Prine, Indian Springs. 2B-Rachel Bunker, Pahranagat Valley; Halle Jackson, Indian Springs. 3B–Jessica Brede, Pahranagat Valley; Chanlei Phillips, Tonopah. SS–Morgan Harris, Pahranagat Valley; Lauren Klapper, Tonopah. OF–Karley Whipple, Pahranagat Valley; Emily Hansen, Pahranagat Valley; Hailey Linfoot, Indian Springs.
P–Yesenia Ortega, Beaver Dam; Samantha Robinson, Sandy Valley. C–Leah Kniefel, Tonopah. 1B–Skyla Ogilvie, Tonopah. 2B–Tessa North, Tonopah. 3B–Yatzary Flores, Beaver Dam. SS–Kynnedie Ellingford, Beaver Dam. OF–Hannah Castelton, Pahranagat Valley; Hailey Butler, Indian Springs; Aubree Young, Indian Springs.
co-Most Valuable Players –Madalyn Taylor, Pahranagat Valley; Aspen Avery, Indian Springs.
Coach of the Year–Steven Feick, Beaver Dam