RIVERTON — Wednesday afternoon there was no evidence of the problems that caused Emily Bateman to lecture her team the day before.
“I yelled at them yesterday,” said the Riverton softball coach after the fourth-ranked Silverwolves defeated top-ranked Taylorsville 12-3. “I told them I was sick of the lackadaisical, selfish, disrespectful attitude that was happening among the team.”
The players responded exactly as she hoped they would. “They came focused and ready to go today,” Bateman said. “We had a mini-practice before the game, and they came here much more tuned in, and they turned it around. I am so proud of them.”
The coach’s frustration stemmed from seeing the players waste their potential. Tuesday just pushed the coach to her limit — four players showed up to practice late; several were getting marginal grades; and most of them were giving a half-hearted effort at practice.
“We had some argumentative and confrontational situations,” said Bateman.
Consequently, the team played poorly against West Jordan, and despite a 6-4 win, Bateman told the players exactly what their bad attitude and lack of effort would earn them.
“We play a team sport for a reason,” she told them. “Selfish attitudes will destroy it from the inside out. I told them, ‘We need to change that now, if you want to be as successful as you can be.’ They need to understand that their decisions affect other people."
Senior Kyrae Kogaines admits the players needed the tongue-lashing.
“It hit us hard and made us think,” said the catcher who hit two two-run home runs in the win. “I feel like we weren’t giving our best. We needed to change. Today we were here and ready to play, just focused. We wanted to get the job done right, not with half effort.” She said the players want to push themselves, and they understand that will require more dedication.
“We want to play our hearts out and not let the little things hurt us,” she said. “We may need another reminder here and there to keep us focused.”
Wednesday’s performance, Kogaines said, “felt great.”
The Silverwolves relied on pitcher Courtney Platt, while Taylorsville started with Jaycie Lebaron and then used two freshmen trying to slow the Silverwolves’ offense — Caitlyn Littleford and Aseneca Lesuma.
Kogaines hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and then had a line drive in the second inning that drove in two more runs. She hit her final home run over the left field fence, which scored Kaylee Jaussi, who walked to get on base.
Kogaines said she feels the home runs were her seventh and eighth this season, and she believes part of it is feeling stronger — physically and mentally.
“I just feel more confident, more sound,” she said. “I think I just have more muscle this year.”
For the Warriors, Karlee Jensen hit a two-run home run over the center-field fence, and then Cami Mathews followed her and hit a home run in the same inning. But those three runs were all the Warriors could manage against Platt and the Silverwovles’ defense. In addition to Kogaines' home runs, Alysa Linford hit a two-run home run for Riverton in the third inning.
“Of course I feel good about the win,” said Bateman. “But what I feel best about was that it still wasn’t a perfect game for us. That room for improvement is a positive thing. They just need to believe in themselves.”