Fans of both the visiting Salem Hills Skyhawks and the host Bear River Bears savored a sunny Saturday afternoon of superior softball. In a defensive battle between two of the state's top teams, Salem Hills eked out a 2-0 win over Bear River.
"Bear River has a long tradition of great softball, so I knew it was going to be a tough game," Skyhawks coach Renae Kinghorn said. "After a long trip here, I was hoping the girls would still come out hard."
The Skyhawks led off with a Kenzie Martin single. Abbie Tuttle moved Martin to second on a ground-out to Bears pitcher McKenzi Summers. Martin (2 for 2) reached third when second baseman Oakli Rhodes went for an easy out at first. A wild pitch left home open, and Martin took advantage, putting the Skyhawks ahead 1-0.
Bohling said of the Bears, "I expected lots of base hits."
She added, "I felt in control after I struck out their first two batters. I felt really good when we scored in the first inning. I love pitching when we are ahead. I just feel more relaxed."
In the top of the second inning, the Skyhawks' right fielder, Alex Oveson, singled, followed by another from Annalee Castleberry. Two batters later, Kenna Davis walked, loading up the bases with one out.
Catcher Kailee Simons hit a grounder to Trapp at third base, but Trapp was able to get the ball to catcher McKayla King for the force at home. Martin then drew a walk that forced home Castleberry. Tuttle hit a hard grounder to Trapp, who touched third, ending the inning.
Skyhawks left fielder Ashley Whiting started the third inning with another Salem Hills single. Bear River promptly shut down any threat. Summers struck out one. It was Oakli Rhodes to Sierra Detwiler for the second out. A pop-up to Bears shortstop Fox silenced the Skyhawks.
It was three up, three down for the Bears in the third, with Bohling claiming three strike-outs.
Salem Hills went down quietly in the fourth with a Cowden grounder to Rhodes, a strike-out, and a deep fly ball by Simons to Bears center-fielder Brenna Hinck.
Bear River began its half of the fourth inning with a hard-hit Trapp triple to the right-field fence, setting up what looked to be a rally by the Bears.
The Skyhawks' defense once again, however, was able to stifle the charge with another strike-out and a pop fly each to Davis and Oveson. The Bears wouldn't threaten again.
In the fifth, Salem Hills once again jumped out with another single from Martin. When Tuttle singled to right field, Martin held up to see if it would drop and was thrown out at second by right fielder Kylie Larkin.
The Skyhawks' Whiting grounded to Trapp, who threw to Rhodes to get Tuttle out. Summers then got Bohling to ground out to Rhodes to end the inning.
Both teams went down 1-2-3 in the sixth and the seventh innings. The game ended with a ranging grab of a Detwiler line drive by Tuttle.
Bear River begins its defense of the 3A state title a week from Saturday against Pine View at Juan Diego.
Troy Bohling can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org