Tom Smart, Deseret News
TAYLORSVILLE — The Mountain Crest softball team has come a long way.
From not winning a region game in 2009 to becoming one of two remaining teams without a loss in the current 4A state tournament, it has been a 180-degree turnaround for the Mustangs.
"Something we're trying to do in our organization is learn how to win," head coach Mike Anderson said after Mountain Crest completed a major upset, defeating Region 8 champion Spanish Fork 3-2 on Wednesday evening. "We're in a different place and it is the attitude of these girls. It's a brand new overhaul."
The Mustangs, who finished second in Region 5, pulled off the upset by scoring two runs in the sixth inning and then holding on with clutch plays on defense in the top of the seventh.
Kelsey Benson led-off the Mountain Crest sixth inning with a single. She went to second on a Kaylee Dattage groundout, and then to third on a McKenzie Anderson single. The Dons attempted to catch Benson leading off third base, but an errant throw allowed her to score easily, tying the game at two.
Catcher Tessa Sorensen stepped to the plate two batters later and drove Anderson home for the go-ahead run.
"In the tournament, we've had different kids show up on different days," Coach Anderson said. "We had one kid, Kenzie Rasmussen, hit two home runs against Bountiful. When we played Payson, we had three kids — Britta Bankhead, Benson, and Anderson — hit home runs, and today, I would single out McKenzie Anderson, who went 2-for-3, scored the winning run, and was also the shortstop who made the play to end the game from her knees, which was pretty dynamic."
In the top of the seventh, winning pitcher Jordan Smith struck out the first two batters and then McKinley Brinkerhoff hit a single. Kelli Hales sent a grounder to Anderson, who corralled it and threw the ball to Bankhead for the final out.
Smith finished with seven strikeouts, walking one batter, hitting two, and giving up four hits.
"My heart was in my throat the whole game because that is as good a team as you could play in the whole state," Anderson said. "You have some great hitters on that team and it's a great pitcher, too, so it takes some key hits and different things for that to happen for you."
Kailey Christensen was in the circle for Spanish Fork. She struck out four Mustangs, gave up no walks and allowed just six hits, including only three hits through the first five innings.
"We did a funny thing, we pulled some men from these old leagues and had them pitching to our team," Anderson said. "That's what we've been doing to try to get ready for state so we can see a little more heat. And that's helped us a little bit, I think."
Mountain Crest scored the first run of the game in the second inning. Benson reached base on a fielding error, advanced around the diamond on groundouts, and then made it home on another Don error.
Spanish Fork responded right away as Brook Kromer walked and then eventually scored on Kylie Wolf's sacrifice fly to left field.
"That's a great team, a classy organization, and it's a big win for us," Anderson said. "The thing we talked with the kids about is, we can't be satisfied here. That just opened the door and made some other things possible. But if we don't win tomorrow, then this really doesn't matter."
Mountain Crest will now meet Region 6 champion Tooele in the final winner's bracket game at 6:45 p.m. today. Spanish Fork will face Region 8 foe Salem Hills in the one-loss bracket at 4:30 p.m. It will be the third meeting of the season for the two teams. They split their regular-season matchups, as the Skyhawks dealt Spanish Fork its only region loss.
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