ST. GEORGE – The Region 9 softball teams were all in action on Tuesday. Included was a showdown between last year’s region champion, Snow Canyon, and this year’s preseason favorite, Desert Hills. A big inning late in the game threw the contest to the Thunder but Coach Tracee Heaton’s young team played error-free defense and gave reason for region coaches not to write them off as rebuilding.
Cedar remains on top of the region standings with their win over Pine View. That sets up a showdown on Thursday between region unbeatens Desert Hills and Cedar. Hurricane got its first region win decisively over visiting Dixie. Below are game summaries of Tuesday’s action:
Desert Hills 9, Snow Canyon 5
“Snow Canyon has a good program,” she said. “They are very well coached from an early age. Even though we may have an edge with experience, Snow Canyon has that edge mentally with the success they have had the past few years.”
It was the Thunder that got on the board early. After consecutive singles from Riley Stookey and Sophie Wilcox, Corinn Grantham hit a two-run triple in the bottom of the first inning.
“Last year they pitched me outside,” said Grantham. “And even though it is a different pitcher, I felt that they would pitch me outside again this year. Earlier this year, I got a home run on an outside pitch. I was able to hit it hard.”
The score remained 2-0 over the next few innings as both teams made great defensive plays. In the second inning, Warrior third baseman Natalie Gunn caught a sharp rap to her, then briskly threw to second to double up the runner. Thunder first baseman Ashlee File made a diving catch on a pop-up bunt that flew halfway between home and first.
“Both teams played great defense today,” Heaton said. “The game came down to the offenses. We had a good rally in the fifth. But they were able to answer in the next inning.”
Indeed, the Lady Warriors were able to string together some hits and walks to score four runs in the fifth inning. Teagan Trent drew a walk to open the inning. Alex Deming then singled to put runners at first and second. Preslee Gates then matched Grantham’s two-run triple with one of her own. Camryn Johnson then doubled in Gates. Johnson would later advance to third and then score on a wild pitch. At the end of five, the score was 4-2 Warriors.
In the sixth, Thunder pitcher Bri St. Clair got into big trouble quickly. The first batter, Abi Farrer, reached on a fielding error (the only error by either team the entire game). St. Clair then walked Trent and Deming. With the bases loaded, St. Clair faced the top of the Warriors lineup with no outs. She struck out the first batter. Gates then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Farrer. With two outs and two on, St. Clair faced Johnson, who to that point was 3 for 3. But St. Clair got the Warriors’ most productive hitter to chase a rise ball out of the zone for strike three. Still, going into the bottom of the sixth, Snow Canyon held a 5-2 lead.
That’s when the Thunder bats finally came alive. Wilcox started the inning with a double to center field. Katelyn Philips then singled to put runners at the corners. After Philips stole second, Grantham got her second extra-base hit of the day with a double to score both runners.
After Grantham advanced to third on a wild pitch, Coach McArthur signaled for the batter, Megan Wiscombe, to bunt-squeeze in Grantham. Wiscombe laid the bunt perfectly down the third-base line. The only problem was that Warrior third baseman Natalie Gunn anticipated the play and charged it ahead of the runner Grantham.
“We were running side by side,” said Grantham. “She may have even been a little ahead of me. I saw her reach down for the ball and so I just dove to the right of the plate and reached my hand for the score.”
Gunn’s anticipation did not prove fruitful as she had difficulty bare-handing the ball to make the out. Grantham’s run tied the score 5-5.
The Warriors got the first out when the Thunder’s Savannah Wright bunt-sacrificed Wiscombe to second. Wiscombe advanced to third on a passed ball, then scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 6-5. File and St. Clair both hit singles to put runners at the corners. File scored on a passed ball with St. Clair going to second. Stookey then hit a single up the middle to score St. Clair and make it 8-5. Wilcox then got her second double of the inning to score Stookey. The Warriors finally got out of the inning with a strikeout, but the damage had been done and they faced a 9-5 deficit.
In the final inning, the Warrior batters hit three consecutive pop-ups to end the game.
“I was not convinced it was over till that final out,” said McArthur. “You can’t ever count them out.”
Desert Hills moves to 3-0 in Region 9 and 18-1-1 overall. The Lady Thunder will travel to Cedar on Thursday to determine which team will take the early lead in region play. Game time will be 4 p.m.
Snow Canyon falls to 2-2 in region and 9-9 overall. The Lady Warriors will travel to Pine View on Tuesday. Game time is set for 4 p.m.
Cedar City 12, Pine View 7
But the Lady Panthers committed four errors in the bottom of the inning. That, combined with the four Cedar hits, led to an eight-run inning for the Lady Reds. They exited the third inning with a 9-5 lead.
“It was not our best defensive effort,” said Cedar head coach Chris Weaver. “We gave up seven runs, and six of those were unearned. We did swing the bat pretty well though.”
Sage Oldroyd and Denim Henkel both recorded home runs. Dream Weaver had a triple. Bryton Holyoak pitched the complete game for the win from the circle.
For Pine View, Kyierra Grinnell relieved Abby Neilson in the circle in the third inning. Both girls also had multiple hits for the Panthers. One of Grinnell’s was a double.
“We play very well in spurts,” said Pine View assistant coach Russ Nielsen. “We need to put together a complete game. You can’t give a good team like Cedar extra outs. They made us pay for that today.”
Cedar moves to 4-0 in region play and 10-7-1 overall. The Lady Reds will host Desert Hills this Thursday. Game time is at 4 p.m. Pine View drops to 0-3 in Region 9 and 6-10 overall. The Lady Panthers will host Snow Canyon on Tuesday. Game time is at 4 p.m.
Hurricane 11, Dixie 4
For the Tigers, Ashley Farrar, Mady Petty, Savannah Jessop and Jaycee Barney all had multiple hits. Hurricane outhit the Lady Flyers 12-5. Hayley Teta got the win from the circle, going the complete game and striking out four. Only one of the five runs scored was earned.
For the Lady Flyers, Courtney McArthur and Kenzie Worthington had multiple hits. McArthur also had a home run.
“We played pretty good defensively,” said Hurricane head coach Ryan Smith. “We only had one error. Hayley Teta pitched well, allowing only five hits and one walk over the complete game. Jaiden Smith made a great diving catch, her fifth of the year.”
Hurricane improves to 1-2 in region and 3-5-2 overall. The Lady Tigers will travel to Desert Hills next Tuesday. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. Dixie falls to 0-3 in Region 9 and 3-17 overall. The Lady Flyers will travel to Cedar on Tuesday. Their game is scheduled for 4 p.m.
REGION 9 SOFTBALL STANDINGS
Cedar 4-0 (10-7-1)
Desert Hills 3-0 (18-1-1)
Snow Canyon 2-2 (9-9)
Hurricane 1-2 (3-5-2)
Pine View 0-3 (6-10)
Dixie 0-3 (3-17)
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