PROVO - It took a lot of guts for West and Provo to even walk onto the softball diamond, let alone attempt to play a game complete with throwing, catching, sliding and hitting.
They weren't exactly even playing on a surface resembling that of a softball field. It looked much more like a muddy swamp, but they didn't let that stop them. The coaches agreed they wanted to get a game in, and the umpires reluctantly said they could try it.
So they did play in the sloppy muck, and the Provo Bulldogs came away with the 19-9, 10-run rule win, though many players were caked with mud from head to toe from the effort.
"It was perfect weather until game time, and then it started hailing. It was the coaches' decision. They'd traveled all this way, and we both decided we wanted to get a game in," said Provo coach Jose Ventura, who noted that both teams are planning tournaments in St. George and wanted some play under their belts before heading out.
They kept plying the field with drying materials, especially the pitching circle and around home plate, but there was a semicircle around home plate that was loaded with puddles, and the base paths and infield weren't exactly mud-free.
The girls spent much of their time kicking mud from their shoes, and the hardest workers weren't on the field, they were the girls drying off the balls after they'd been used.
And in the midst of all this chaos and laughter-filled spills and thrills, the Provo team started a freshman pitcher, Taylor Allman.
Allman had a rough first couple of innings, it's true, but considering it was her first ever start and the weather she had to deal with, she came through big time as the game progressed.
"I was very pleased with the pitching. Starting in these conditions where you can't even grip the ball, my hat's off to her," said Ventura about the freshman who snared a pair of line drives and tossed the ball to first and second bases respectively for inning-ending double plays in the third and fifth.
After giving up nine runs in the first two innings, Allman shut things down from then on. She only allowed six hits to the Panthers and not a single score after the second.2 comments on this story
Meanwhile, the Provo hitters really packed a whallop, recording 12 hits for their 19 runs. Basketball star and centerfielder Ashley Kuchar smacked four hits in addition to a walk and two RBIs. Sidney Elliot started things off with a bang in the leadoff spot, reaching base and giving the Panthers plenty of trouble with her base-running skills. She and Kuchar both pounded out doubles. Leighann Vanquil added three RBIs as well, and the entire team showed plenty of grit in the batters' box, on the base paths and in the field.
The Panthers worked hard in the muddy conditions as well, and pitcher Sia Skipps and Alex Franco each smacked triples for them.
"I thought it was impressive. I was very happy with the performance. I thought we did a very good job," said Ventura.