Red Devil softball coach Jill Thackeray had the same thought as Skyhawks coach Renae Clarke coming in to Tuesday's key Region 8 matchup: This is going to be a war.
Historically, when Salem Hills and Springville get together on the softball diamond, there is no early winner, no blowout — it comes down to the wire. And this game was no exception as the Red Devils pulled out a 1-0 win in the ninth inning at Salem Hills.
Red Devil sophomore pitcher Kacie Jensen and Skyhawk senior Kirtlyn Bohling both threw complete games. Both pitchers struck out six batters in the first two innings. Jensen gave up only three hits and Bohling only two hits for the game. Jensen threw for 10 strike-outs and Bohling for 14. This duel was going to go past the finish line, and only one team could go home happy.
The Skyhawks left 10 runners stranded through the course of the game, including bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, which led Jensen to say, "It is so good to have a team that has my back. I wasn't too stressed because I know my team will make the plays, so I could just throw for outs. This is a great start to region."
The Red Devils threatened in the fifth inning as Mary Fredrickson reached on an error as did Katelynn Marshall two batters later. With one out and runners on second and third, it looked good for Springville. But the Skyhawks were able to get a strike-out and a ground-out to end the threat.
At the end of seven innings, with a 0-0 tie, Springville got the first look at the international tie breaker. Bohling mowed down all three Springville batters to retire the side.
In the Skyhawk half of the inning, with catcher Shina Parrish on second base, Jensen got a strike-out, then forced a low blooper that was caught by Annie Anderson, who threw to Kristy Snyder for a double play, ending the threat.
Finally, in the top of the ninth, Springville was able to move Tiana Ta'ala to third base on a sacrifice bunt. With the corners in, Snyder pushed a bunt through a hole, driving in the only run of the contest.
Snyder said, "The key for us was to never give up on D, even if we couldn't get anything going on offense."
But the Skyhawks weren't finished. Alexis Oveson led off and reached base on an error, then stole second Bohling was walked intentionally to load up the bases with no outs. Jensen got the next three Skyhawks to pop up to the catcher, second baseman and pitcher to end the game.
Thackeray said, "It was just so much fun! We know what it is like being on the losing end of a game like this [the Red Devils lost to Bingham last week in the 10th inning], and this just feels a lot better. We needed this win."
Troy Bohling can be contacted at email@example.com.