High school softball: Li's redemption helps Skyline win rivalry game
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It was one of those catches that is so easy, so everyday ordinary that a player doesn't even have to think about how to do it.
"It was so routine, " said Erica Li shaking her head, "It was one of those you should never, ever drop."
But the senior shortstop did drop the pop fly hit by one of her friends who plays for rival Olympus. And it was costly.
"It was a bad one," she said after hitting a home run to redeem herself and give Skyline a 7-6 win over Olympus Thursday afternoon. "Three runs scored because of it. It tied the game."
Skyline owned a 6-3 lead when Li dropped the pop fly, which would have been the third out of the fifth inning had she caught it. She said her teammates helped her move on, and she did so, in part by smashing the game-winning home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"It reminded me that nothing is so routine that you don't have to think about it," Li said. "You have to have your head in every play."
The game was a battle of two potent offenses.
"It was a great game between rivals," said Olympus head coach Cyndee Bennett. "I thought both teams hit really well."
There were five home runs in the game — two for Olympus and three by the Eagles. Olympus shortstop Marissa Johnson and Niki Eskelson hit balls over the fence for the Titans, while catcher Kristin Tatum hit a three-run home run in the third inning to give Skyline a 3-2 lead. Then Maya Lacy, second baseman, hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After the dropped fly, the Titans managed to tie the game with one run scoring on the error and two other scoring on a subsequent single.
Li said she tried to move on quickly.
"I knew I had to try and make up for the mistake," she said. "I know you're not supposed to think in the box, but I was thinking about hitting a home run. It might have come up in my mind, but I really just focused on trying to get on base. It just happened to be a perfect pitch."
She said she felt much better after hitting the ball over the fence but not completely redeemed.
"But I still felt bad," she said. "But I did all I could to help my team."
Skyline co-head coaches Jamie Hayes and Amanda Kendzior said part of the Eagles' strength is that they help each other deal with the kinds of things that could tear a team down — like a costly mistake.
"That has to do with their maturity," said Hayes. "They fight for each other. This is a mature team. I knew they'd be fine."
The fact that the team is experienced, mature and tight-knit gave her confidence that the other players would reassure Li and help her work to overcome the mistake.
Kendzior said the rivalry game is one of the more enjoyable, but also unpredictable.
"It doesn't matter what the teams' records are," she said. "Both teams get up for this competition."