Kenny Bristow, Wasatch Wave
Their first game was postponed. The next game was an extra-inning heartbreaking defeat to Juab by a run, 9-8. Their home opener turned out to be a lopsided loss on a local park field to Provo, 10-1. Such is the start of the season for the Wasatch High varsity softball team.
Wednesday afternoon, Wasatch welcomed future 4A region 8 opponent Provo High School to Heber City. The Bulldogs came with their ace pitcher, Taylor Allman. It was a true test for the black and gold.
Neither team scored in the first inning. The Bulldogs got on the board in the top of the second with a solo, in-the-park-home run by Eleanor Talia, then added three more runs off a combination of hits and Wasp errors.
What looked like a long game for Wasatch settled down after that, and Wasp pitcher Ashlynn Davis was able to find her groove and shut down the Provo bats through the next three innings. Unfortunately for the home team, it was only able to muster one run, scored by Tristin Bills, during that stretch.
The Wasps had a few threats going but were unable to capitalize with runners on third base in the third and fourth innings. Assistant coach Clint Kelson called that the story of the game. ”We got them in scoring position but couldn’t get the big hit,” he said. “We weren’t doing too bad off their pitcher — and she’s tough — we just weren’t able to capitalize on those runners when we had them.”
With the score 4-1, Provo took a huge advantage with three runs in the sixth, then broke the game open with three more in the seventh to send Wasatch to its second defeat of the young season, 10-1.
Afterwards, head coach Gary Roberts summed up the back-to-back games. “We played better yesterday (against Juab) as a team,” he said. “We hit better, played better in the field just an all around better effort,” he added. “Today, we had a couple of bad breaks that took us out of it, but they (Provo) pitched and played well."
In Tuesday's game against Juab, Wasatch came up short and lost the game in the bottom of the first extra inning, 9-8.
Both teams came out slugging, with Wasatch drawing first blood on senior Renee Fagg’s deep solo home run in the top of the first. At least one run was scored on each side through the first three innings. Wasatch put up two in the top of the fourth and finally was able to stop the home team in the bottom half of the frame, giving the Wasps a 7-5 lead.
Wasatch came up with its first zero to start off the fifth inning and allowed Juab to put two runs on the board in the bottom half to tie the game at seven runs apiece.
The next inning saw both squads shut the other one out, setting the stage for the seventh inning.
In the visitors' half, Wasatch barely missed out on taking the lead when Renee Fagg’s shot straight to center field just missed going out and bounced off the fence for a double. Her team was not able to bat her in, however, and the Wasps settled for no runs. Wasatch starting pitcher Ashlyn Davis was able to hold the home team scoreless in the seventh, and the game went into extra innings.
Wasatch added a run in the top of the eighth inning, putting itself in position to win its first game of the season. But it was not meant to be as Juab was able to get one run across to tie it, then added the game winner on a double.
It was a tough loss for the young Wasatch squad, but the first of many lessons that will surely be learned this season. “We had some costly errors, but we hit the ball well,” said Roberts. “It would have been nice to win it, but it shows we really have so much to work on.”
The Wasps then struggled to put the tough loss behind them, as evidenced by the beat down Provo put on them in the home opener.
Roberts said at this point in the season nurturing is just as important to him as winning, but that doesn't mean he's not a little frustrated. “it may take a little longer than we thought," he said, "but we’ll find a way.”
When asked what he thought his young team needed to focus on after the first two games, Roberts replied, “Defense. We really have to improve on our defense. We have a pitcher who will get the ball in play, so we have to back her up and make plays.”
The coach is optimistic when it comes to the learning curve for his team. “We’re an inexperienced bunch — as a unit. We’re still looking for our emotional leader,” he said. “When we find her and we get some games under our belt, we’ll be a really good team come region time.”
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and is a contributor to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org