SALEM HILLS, Utah — After a shaky start, the Salem Hills Skyhawks adjusted to the emotion of the final senior regular season home game to take down the Orem Tigers 8-0 in the Region 8 finale for both teams.
The lead-off batter for the Tigers, sophomore Jazlyn Price, took a pitch to her ankle to start the game. She got up, rubbed a little dirt on it, and trotted to first base. After Mackenzie Lamoreaux grounded out to Skyhawk Kenna Davis, who made the easy throw to Sydney Olson, Tiger Rachel Albach drew a walk.
It looked like a good start for Orem. When Maddie Albach stepped up and hit a single, loading the bases, some Skyhawk fans worried.
Head coach Renae Kinghorn attributed the rough start to "senior night and a change in their pregame routines and some position changes."
But Salem Hills' Kirtlyn Bohling (13 strikeouts) settled in and went to work, striking out the next eight consecutive Orem batters. The Skyhawk defense took care of business the rest of the way. Kenzie Cowden and Olson accounted for every non-strikeout the rest of the way. The only other hit of the game for the Tigers was a single by Valerie Ramirez in the top of the seventh.
Orem's Kelsey Condie was able to contain the Skyhawks in the first inning, forcing pop-ups to Lamoreaux and Price, giving up a lone single to Bohling before striking out the final batter of the inning.
The Skyhawks wouldn't be silent for long, however.
In the bottom of the second, Davis reached first on an error but was subsequently thrown out by Albach trying to steal second. Condie once again forced a pop-out for the second out.
Designated player Ashley Whiting (1 for 4 RBIs) stepped up and singled, followed by Olson with another. With runners on first and second, Abbie Tuttle (1 for 4, HR, 3 RBIs) took one deep for a three-run homer to put the Skyhawks up 3-0.
Orem was stingy on defense through the third and fourth innings, with Condie sprinkling strike-outs with easy pop flies to Lamoreaux and Price.
But it is tough to stop runners from crossing the plate when the Skyhawks string hits together as they did in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, again with two outs, Salem's Whiting singled and after a passed ball, occupied second base. Bohling stepped up and singled for an RBI followed by Cowden with another single. Still, the Skyhawks could only muster one run, as Kenzie Martin grounded out to Price, ending the inning.
The sixth featured a lead-off double by Kaylee Simons, whose courtesy runner, Courtney DeGraw, crossed the plate when Olson singled. Olson then scored two batters later when Whiting drove a long fly ball to Mary Nicholes in left field for a sacrifice RBI.
Tuttle, who reached first on a fielder's choice, scored via another Bohling (3 for 4, 2 RBIs) single, then Whiting scored on an Amelia Weight single.
Skyhawks coach Renae Kinghorn said of Olson, a senior, "Sydney played extremely well defensively. She went 2 for 3 at the plate. She is an inspiring person, so positive and makes people smile. She was terrific tonight."
Olson said, "This is our home, our turf. We have confidence here. I knew I had Kenzie (Cowden) backing me up and the support of my coaches and teammates."
Simons said, "This is a great team. We play as a family and we leave it all on the field."
Salem Hills will host the state first round playoff game on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Troy Bohling is the coordinator of school services for Nebo School District. He was previously an assistant principal at Salem Hills High School from 2008-12. His daughter Kirtlyn plays for Salem Hills. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.