Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
HERRIMAN — If you like a low-scoring pitcher's duel featuring airtight defense and very few mistakes, well then, this probably wasn't the place for you to spend your Thursday afternoon.
But if you like to watching softball teams who love their teammates and love to play the game, then Herriman High's diamond was a great place to be.
Provo senior pitcher Taylor Allman gutted her way through a complete-game victory, and junior Eleanor "Noa" Talia smacked a two-run homer and an RBI triple to pace the Bulldogs' offense in an 8-5 win over Region 7 champion Herriman in a second-round winners bracket matchup of the 4A girls state tournament.
Allman, who ran her record to 19-7, allowed only five hits and just two earned runs, and she had eight strikeouts with three walks. But the Mustangs managed to score three runs in the first inning on a single base hit, a couple of walks, an error, a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly by Ashlyn Visser.
Herriman scored runs in the second and fourth innings without the benefit of a base hit either time, as Provo throwing errors helped Herriman stay within striking distance.
"That's very uncharacteristic of us," Allman said of her team's defensive lapses that saw them commit six errors in all. "But we came out, we hit the ball hard and we did what we had to do to win. ... I know that my team has my back, so I never get worried."
Provo put four runs up on the scoreboard in the top of the first, as four of the Bulldogs' first five batters got base hits and they wound up batting all the way through their order, getting a total of six singles in the inning. Emily Allman, McKienzie Corless and Lindsay Rowley each had RBIs in the Bulldogs' four-run outburst, but Herriman scored three runs of its own in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-3.
Corless added another RBI single in the second, but Herriman scored an unearned run to pull within 5-4.
Then in the fourth, Taylor Allman bounced a bad-hop single off the third baseman, and Talia sliced a shot deep into the right-field corner for a two-run, inside-the-park homer that made it 7-4.
Herriman again countered, trimming the deficit to 7-5.
But in the sixth, Talia again gave the Bulldogs a little more breathing room when she drilled a run-scoring triple into the gap in right-center to bring home Megan Ventura, who had a couple of hits and scored three runs for Provo.
"Some games I have ups and downs. Like our last game against Bonneville, I couldn't hit. Like, I was horrible," Talia said. "But I knew I had to step it up this game, and I did.
"The thing is, like, we're family no matter what. Every time a person's down, we pick each other up because we're all sisters no matter what."
Talia wound up with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored, while Taylor Allman added two hits and two runs and Corless contributed a pair of RBI singles.
Gabrielle Gordon had two hits and a run-scoring fielder's choice for Herriman (17-9). "Five runs and five hits," Provo coach Jose Ventura sighed. "I don't know what it is, but the last couple of games we cannot catch the ball clean and we're not making clean throws. We've been good defensively all year long, but the last couple of games we've just been struggling for some reason.
"It was a testament to our team and their hard work to not let our mistakes get us down," Provo coach Jose Ventura said.. "... And we started making plays and we got some big hits.
"It helps that we have been playing together for the last four years. They're good friends; they do dances together, they go to movies together. They like each other, they pull for each other and they want each other to play well, and I love that. ... I love these kids; they're just nice, nice people."