KAYSVILLE — Throwing a complete-game shutout is already hard enough. But doing so with a marginal 1-0 lead as an underdog on the road transforms what was already a difficult task into something that deserves a hat tip and applause.
After her team scored in the third inning against the Davis Darts on Tuesday, Copper Hills pitcher Payten Davies loaded up. The fastball pitcher struck out four and kept the favored Darts at bay until the Grizzlies piled on five runs in the top of the seventh for the 6-0 win at Davis High.
“This game is so fast that the change could happen with one swing. Having a one-run lead is always difficult. You’re always looking over your shoulder,” Copper Hills coach Jentry Johnson said. “I thought it was going to come when that line drive flew past my third baseman. But we refocused on the mound and refocused in the infield and were able to keep them off.”
The Darts (4-2) never threatened in a game that zoomed behind two dominant pitchers. Davis never advanced farther than second base and rarely made it past first. In three separate innings, Davies mowed three batters down and never faced more than four batters in one inning.
“Payten is getting better every single game,” Johnson said. “She’s becoming more consistent and somebody that we are rely on. We do a lot of communicating with her, focusing with her, so she knows what her purpose is on the mound. It’s been really paying off.”
Copper Hills was on the verge of opening the flood gates, but a creative 6-2-5 double play bailed Davis pitcher Cheyenne Norton out of the jam. Norton has six strikeouts in seven innings.
Norton had faced 20 batters entering the seventh inning trailing by one, but the Grizzlies had squandered opportunities. In the seventh, following a Davis error and a walk, Emilee Sweet placed a bunt down the third baseline to juice the bases.
It was the lone hit in an inning that featured five runs, two throwing errors and three passed balls. Norton battled 10 batters in the seventh inning alone.
“We had been getting runners on every inning other than the early innings. I told them to focus on the task at hand, which was scoring a run — not just getting runners on,” Johnson said. “We had a great bunt laid down and loaded the bases and put pressure on their pitcher.
“She’s a very good pitcher who was moving the ball around, but when a pitcher feels a lot of pressure, especially in the later innings, we saw kind of a little breakdown and we were able to capitalize on that.”