Incline softball | Nelson, Keller powering Highlanders in early season |

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Incline softball | Nelson, Keller powering Highlanders in early season

Incline edges Silver Stage in twin bill

The Incline softball team won both ends of a league doubleheader against Silver Stage on Saturday, both by the same score of 16-15. The scheduled home games were played in Carson City due to conditions on Incline’s field.

The Highlanders amassed 20 hits in Game 1 and needed a two-run bottom of the seventh to pull off the win. Senior Elise Nelson went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs, while Maddie Findlen was 4-for-5 with two RBIs. Karyss Thompson had three hits, including a double and RBI, Briana Barraza had three hits, and Kotney Solis had two hits and three RBIs.

Incline coach Kelley Thompson said senior pitcher Kierra Keller started but left when she injured her knee while running to first. Nelson replaced Keller, who returned to pitch the second game but was not 100 percent.

The Highlanders came back to win the second game after falling behind 11-4 in the early innings.

Incline had 17 hits, with Keller going 4-for-5 with three doubles and an RBI, Caroline May going 4-for-5 with an RBI, and Solis going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Thompson added two hits, including a double, and an RBI.

You can’t complain about having eight seniors on a softball team, and Incline coach Kelley Thompson is certainly not.

“We have eight seniors, so we have a lot of experience. We actually have a good mix of youth and experience,” said Thompson, whose seniors are accompanied by two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen.

Despite struggling through some early-season illnesses, the Highlanders are off to a 3-3 start in Northern Division III league play and 5-3 overall.

Offense has been the key so far. Incline is batting a collective.395 on the season and is scoring better than 11 runs per game.

Seniors Elyse Nelson and Kierra Keller have been hottest of all Incline hitters. Nelson is batting a cool .667 with two home runs, two doubles and 12 RBIs through the first eight games. Keller, who’s new to the Highlanders but has an extensive playing background, is hitting .613 with five home runs, six doubles and 16 RBIs.

Keller, who bats third in the lineup, with Nelson following in the cleanup hole, is Incline’s main pitcher along with Nelson. Keller catches when not pitching, Thompson said.

Senior shortstop Maddie Findlen, hitting .414, leads off the order and is followed by senior catcher and first baseman Kortney Solis, who’s hitting .379. Freshman third baseman Karyss Thompson, hitting .440, bats fifth and senior second baseman Caroline May sixth, followed by senior Sarah Wright, sophomore Briana Barraza and freshmen Christine Schwartz or Harmony Bates.

Wright, who recently returned from illness, roams center field and is joined in the outfield by Baraza and Schwartz. Taylor Orblych, Elizabeth Resney, Tori Findlen, Alex Resney and Megan Rachlin round out the Highlanders’ roster.

The Highlanders and the rest of the league are chasing Yerington and White Pine, both of whom are undefeated in league play. Incline, which played White Pine competitively and will face Yerington this weekend, is hoping to earn one of the four regional playoff berths.

“It’s going to be a battle for third and fourth spots,” Thompson said.

The Highlanders play a league doubleheader at Yerington on Saturday and host two against North Tahoe on April 19.