BOUNTIFUL — Juan Diego used a six-run second inning to run away from Bountiful in prep softball action Wednesday afternoon.
“We started out slow, but played well," Juan Diego head coach Paul Archuleta said following the 9-2 win.
Alexis Cabey led the Soaring Eagle with two hits and three RBIs — all of which came in the decisive second inning. During the inning, Juan Diego strung together four hits and three walks while sending 11 batters to the plate. Five of the six runs were scored with two outs.
The last two runs came off a line-drive single by Cabey.
“I just wanted to make contact when I got up to bat," she said. "I had been struggling with the inside pitch, but when I saw it, I was able to hit it hard."
The Braves out hit Juan Diego, 10-8, but could not turn them into runs.
“We hit the ball hard, but right at them," Bountiful head coach Butch Latey said.
“We knew they played small ball, so we worked on bunts, bunts, and more bunts, to get ready for today’s game,” Juan Diego junior shortstop Jaici Bishop said of the defensive effort.
Bishop robbed the Braves’ batters of at least three hits with her stellar infield play.
Claire Haddick earned the win by scattering 10 hits and stranding 10 runners.
“Claire just pitched outs," Bishop said of her pitcher.
Bountiful junior centerfielder Bailey Hart agreed.
“(Haddick) hit her spots all game," she said. "She had us thinking.”
Haddick didn’t strike out a batter, but forced ground ball after ground ball.
“Claire understands that her defense is behind her," Archuleta said. "She knows that eight girls have her back."
In addition to Bishop’s plays at shortstop, Melanie Mecham made two excellent catches in centerfield to stop two Bountiful rallies.
For the Braves, Hart and junior AnnMarie Allred were the offensive leaders. Hart had three hits and an RBI, while Allred had two hits and scored a run. Landi Hawker added two hits for the Braves, including a run-scoring double.
“For our first game, we played really well," Allred said. "It’s something to build on."
Latey noted his team’s early struggles.
“We couldn’t find the (strike) zone early," Latey said. "We could have come back from three runs, but six was just too many.”
Braves pitcher McKenna Alley was a bright spot for Bountiful. Pitching in relief, she allowed only two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
With the win, Juan Diego improves to 5-1-1. The Soaring Eagle hosts Grantsville at home Thursday. With the loss, Bountiful falls to 0-1 and heads to St. George for four games this weekend.
David Pearce is General Counsel with Beneficial Life Insurance Company.