It’s going to sound old-fashioned at best, downright corny at worst, but Pahrump Valley High School softball players firmly believe their heart and teamwork will get them over the hump in the region and state tournaments.
The word “love” comes up a lot, too.
Senior Jackie Stobbe, who has seen a lot as a four-year varsity player, is a believer.
“We just always have each other’s back,” Stobbe said after the Trojans wrapped up Sunset League play undefeated for the third consecutive year with a 16-0 rout of Mojave on Thursday at Floyd Field. “If we make a mistake, we’re picking each other up. I think that’s the biggest thing. A lot of teams yell at each other, and we don’t have that here. We just love each other.”
The Trojans have won all 30 of those league games the past three years by the mercy rule, but the postseason has been another story. Pahrump Valley last won the region championship in 2014, although the Trojans have reached the state tournament as the region runner-up the past two years.
Last season, Boulder City handed them two losses in the Class 3A Southern Region tournament by a combined 23-5, and the Trojans made a quick exit from the state tournament with a 12-2 loss to Churchill County and an 8-0 loss to Lowry.
So why will this year be different?
“There’s a lot more heart,” senior Hailey Cuellar said. “This team has a lot more heart for each other, they have respect for each other, and they have a lot more drive. That’s the reason this team will make it.”
Those words are music to the ears of coach Cassondra Lauver, who has been talking about how much she loves her players all season.
“They just like each other, and they’re great teammates,” Lauver said. “I love that they love each other.
“We’ve had moments. When you have a family, girls love each other but sometimes they don’t love each other. But they just battle. They believe in each other, and they support each other.”
That is obvious even to a newcomer. Another senior, Zaesha Tripp, moved to Pahrump from Oahu, Hawaii, last June and was concerned about fitting in with her new teammates.
“They’re amazing,” Tripp said. “I love them. Honestly, when I first came in, I thought they were not going to be accepting, but they’ve been so accepting. They’re amazing.”
Pahrump Valley has gone 92-46 over the past four years, including 39-5 in their league. All five of those losses came when the seniors were freshmen.
“Even freshman year I think we did pretty well, but we definitely had a harder league because we had teams like Faith Lutheran and Sierra Vista,” Stobbe said.
The point has been made repeatedly that the weaker league doesn’t help when May rolls around, but the flip side of that is the Trojans get a bit of a jolt when they do play more competitive teams.
“Two weeks ago we had the Centennial Tournament, and that was kind of an awakening because we were playing really hard teams,” Stobbe said of the Spring Jamboree, where the Trojans lost four of five games at Majestic Park in Las Vegas. “But we’ve built back up, and that was a good look at what can happen. As a team, I think it helped us grow.
“We definitely support each other.”
Stobbe and Cuellar agree that getting over the hump to win a state title would be a great way to wrap up their high school careers.
“It’s my senior year, and we’ve been so close in a lot of sports,” Stobbe said. “This is my last chance to get it before I leave, and I know we can do it.”
“I feel pressure to do it for myself, but I’m also doing it for my team, because my team deserves it,” Cuellar said. “From the beginning of preseason, we were out here early in the morning, late at night, just working and grinding. We basically deserve to win.”
Tripp shares that confidence.
“I think we can (win state),” she said. “As long as we work together, there’s no way of stopping our success.”
“I just think we have fight in us, we have experience under our belts,” Lauver said. “We’ve been there multiple times now and we kind of know that feeling of, ‘That should be us.’ We have that hunger. We need to go take that. We need to let that be ours this year. It’s ours. We deserve that.
“Honestly, we are just so jazzed. We have this fire inside of us, and we’re ready to roll.”
Pahrump Valley opened Class 3A Southern Region Tournament play Tuesday at home against Virgin Valley, the No. 4 seed from the Sunrise League. The Trojans will meet either Boulder City or Del Sol in their second tournament game at 3:30 p.m. today in Pahrump.