ST. GEORGE — Trust was the key for the San Juan Broncos in their 4-3 victory over American Leadership during the first day of the 2A state softball tournament. Trust in each other. Trust in their defense and offense.
Trust that they could make that last pivotal stop to secure the win.
"I think we just trusted each other," said San Juan's catcher Jolene Kirk. "We all have talent and we're strong through all nine of our batters. If you have trust as a team then you trust yourself as well."
The Broncos weren't particularly fond of the way they played, but will gladly take the victory. Especially since it demonstrated something they're not typically known for: hard-nosed defense.
"Our defense is really strong," Kirk said. "Offense-wise, all of our batters have hit a home run. Our pitcher has hit eight. So we're definitely strong hitters, but our defense is definitely up to par."
The first few innings of Thursday night's game gave credence to that statement.
In the Broncos' first at bat, Lisha Eldridege hit a triple and then came home off Brooke Lyman's sacrifice RBI. Two innings later, with Teasha Jacobsen positioned at third base, Jessica Swenson hit a sacrifice fly out to right field, allowing her teammate to stroll across home plate for the game's second run.
"We do well under pressure," Jacobsen explained. "We trust each other and make good plays."
American Leadership wasn't about to go down quietly.
"Those girls played their hearts out," ALA coach Dennis Gore said. "San Juan is ranked number two in the state — we're not ranked. We came to give them a game and we gave them one."
Gore's team did their best to keep the Broncos at bay, but with star pitcher Paige Laughlin playing on a strained thigh muscle sustained during the first inning, the Eagles just didn't have enough.
San Juan scored two runs in the sixth and never relinquished the lead.
"I felt like we could've done better," Kirk said. "We did great, we won the game and that's all that matters, but we need to do better (on Friday)."
Elsewhere, Enterprise clobbered Gunnison 13-0, Manti destroyed Grand 17-3 and Millard narrowly edged South Summit 14-13.