High school softball: Tight-knit San Juan advances to 2A championship game
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SPANISH FORK — Success in sports requires a lot of sacrifice.
But one sacrifice the San Juan softball team makes during the state tournament might be hard to fathom for their fellow teens.
"At state we kind of disconnect from everyone else," said senior Brooke Lyman, whose home run helped the second-ranked Broncos defeat third-ranked Enterprise 11-1 Friday night at the Spanish Fork Softball Complex. "We haven't had our cellphones the whole time. Our coach has them."
Instead of sending messages via text, Snapchat or Facebook, the Broncos have been focusing on what matters most this week — each other.
"It does help us focus on softball," said sophomore pitcher Tatiana Su'e Su'e, who drilled her second home run of the tournament with a two-run shot that ended the game in six innings because of the 10-run rule.
Added Lyman: "We definitely make more memories without the phones. Instead of sitting aroung texting other people, we're goofing around with each other. ... We have a lot more fun without them."
And great memories are what San Juan coach Craig Swenson sincerely hopes the girls make this weekend. In fact, as the team finished its dinner Thursday night after an extra-inning win over Millard, Swenson asked a member of the San Juan community to say a few words to the girls.
"What he said put everything back into perspective," he said. "The bonds they'll make are more important than wins. It was really good."
It was an impromptu moment that Swenson believes reminded everyone why these high school teams are so important to the student-athletes who represent their communities. "I think it relaxed them," he said. "It's a reminder that winning isn't everything." But then he jokes that it is pretty nice to take a trophy home with those special memories.
The Broncos relied on their prolific offense in beating one of the state's toughest defenses Friday night. In fact, the team set a goal to smack 34 home runs, which was the state record. Lyman and Su'e Su'e's home runs bring their team total to 44 this season.
The game started with a double by San Juan's L'Sha Eldredge, followed by Presley Mainard's single. Justin Hutchins walked and then Su'e Su'e hit a single, followed by Lyman's home run. Those five runs would have been enough, but the Broncos kept swinging away. Lyman finished 2 for 2 with a walk, a double and a home run, while Su'e Su'e brought her season home run total to 15.
Su'e Su'e also earned the win as pitcher, and she said the team's hitting success comes from a lot of hard work.
"Seeing the ball," she said. "We take 100 swings every practice. And then when we get up there, we have the muscle memory to swing away."
The players admit that there is some skepticism about how legitimate their home run total is because the fence on their home field is shorter than most. But they've knocked the ball out of the park in many away games and have six in the state tournament.
Earlier in the day San Juan beat top-ranked Manti 4-1 behind Su'e Su'e's pitching. The Templars later defeated South Summit 13-2 to advance to Saturday morning's play-in game against Enterprise. Swenson said he doesn't care which team the Broncos face Saturday in the championship game — only that his team continues to play with confidence.
"We're just going to come ready to play," he said.
The Enterprise/Manti game begins at 10 a.m. with the 2A championship game to follow at 12:15 p.m. Enterprise defeated South Summit 3-2 behind Dakota Robinson's pitching and senior Taylor Phelps' two-run home run.