High school softball: Grizzlies prevail on 'Sweet' play
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
TAYLORSVILLE — Copper Hills softball coach Jentry Jo Johnson encouraged her team all year not to give up until the final out. Considering her team's performance in the final inning against rival Bingham in the state semifinals — the lesson was well-received.
Copper Hills used a late two-out rally in the final inning to defeat Bingham 5-4 and advance to the finals of the 5A tournament.
"I never give up on my girls and they've never given up on themselves," said Johnson. "We've had some really tight games and we've done very well in coming up big in big situations."
Senior Amanda Cook stepped up very big in the final inning with her team down 4-3 with two outs and a runner on first. Cook sent a line drive double to right field — scoring Riley Cleverly and tying up the game.
"Amanda hadn't done anything all night, but when she went up to bat I said 'Captain, we need you … you need to get this done," said Johnson. "She came through because she can handle the pressure."
After Ashley Clayson took first base on a walk, freshman Emilee Sweet came to bat in the biggest situation of her young career. Sweet, unfazed, sent a two-strike pitch up the middle — scoring Cook and sending her team to the finals.
"I was pretty calm," said Sweet about the situation. "I got a pep talk from a teammate and she cleared my mind. With two strikes I just put it in play.
"I was thinking it would still be tied if I didn't get a hit and go to the next inning, but that was pretty big for me."
"Emilee Sweet — I call her 'sweetness' because that's what she is," added Johnson. "She's a freshman third baseman who is rock solid. That's a girl that is harder on herself than anybody ever needs to be. She's always asking about how she can get better and she's really worked hard on her mental game. On that last at-bat I saw that glimmer in her eye — that hope … when she got that last hit I just knew (it was coming.)"
Copper Hills held the lead for most of the ballgame before Bingham rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead.
Kaitlin Latu hit a two-run double to give the Miners the lead.
Despite Bingham star pitcher Paige Reimann issuing two early outs, the Grizzlies didn't hang their heads — coming up big in the clutch.
Throughout the game it was little things that got it done for the Grizzlies — making Bingham pay for several fielding and base-running errors.
"We don't have the monster big-hitters, but we do have the girls that can just get it done," said Johnson. "Ten little things can add up to one big thing and if you're relying on that one big thing, it may never come. So we rely on those little things to get it done."
With the win, Copper Hills advances to the championship game where it will face the winner of the Bingham vs. Weber game Thursday afternoon.