The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

October 9, 2012

Nevada on a roll entering softball state playoffs

Nevada High School naturally is hoping to make another run at Class 3 softball supremacy in Missouri.

“We’re playing well as a team,” Tiger coach Tammy Holcomb said on Tuesday night. “We’re playing at our best at the right time.”

Nevada (18-6) visits Grain Valley (22-5) today with the game scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The teams will be meeting for the first time and the head coaches — Jim Oliver is at Grain Valley — said they were more concerned about their team than the opponent.

“We’re trying to decide on what we can do to win the game,” Holcomb said. “We’ve had some injuries and I’m unsure about the starting lineup. We won’t be sure about that until tomorrow.”

Holcomb is certain about the Nevada starting pitcher. It’s senior right-hander Christian Novak, who’s committed verbally to NCAA Division I Weber State of Ogden, Utah.

“Senior (second baseman) Mackenzie Pritchett, who’s committed to Crowder College (of Neosho), has been hitting very well,” Holcomb said.

Nevada has only two more seniors in center fielder Ashley Shumaker and left fielder Victoria Culbertson.

Coach Oliver, in his seventh season as the Eagles’ head coach, said they won their first district title after reaching the title game for the sixth time. The Eagles beat Odessa 8-3 last Friday behind the pitching of senior right-hander Brooklynne Simbeck and four runs in both the first and second innings.

“We have eight seniors and all have started at some time,” Oliver said. “Even our No. 2 pitcher is a senior. Four of those seniors were starters as freshmen, They’re hungry.

“Our hitters third through seventh in the batting order are very similar,” Oliver said. “They hit line drives and make contact.”

Nevada won the state title in 2010 in Springfield by beating Boonville 4-3 in eight innings. Last season, though, the Tigers were ousted by Sullivan 6-2 in a quarterfinal. Centralia wound up winning the title.

Holcomb is in her fourth season as head coach after assisting Brandi Thompson for two years. Holcomb, who prepped at Carl Junction, attended Fort Scott Community College before securing degrees from Pittsburg State and Missouri State.

The winner of Nevada-Grain Valley will face St. Joseph Benton or Trenton in a quarterfinal.

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