BRIGHAM CITY — The birthday girl picked out the perfect present to help make her big day that much more special.
Box Elder senior catcher Molly Horne celebrated her birthday by hammering a two-run double in the fifth inning, igniting the Bees' seven-run outburst that broke open a tight pitchers' duel and paved the way for a 9-1 victory over Roy in the two teams' Region 5 softball clash Tuesday.
Horne had two hits and three RBIs on her birthday, the big blow coming after Whitney Hodgson and Sadie Blacker each singled with one out in the fifth. Horne then stepped up and drilled a drive to the left-center fence to snap a 1-1 tie.
"That was what I've been working on," said Horne, who bats cleanup for the Bees. "I was talking to (Box Elder coach Mandy Hodgson) about it, and that's what I've had to work on is runners in scoring position, getting a hit and actually scoring the runs because that's what I'm supposed to do from the four spot.
"It felt good, it felt real good," Horne said of her go-ahead hit.
After Horne's two-run rocket put the Bees up 3-1, her teammates followed suit as Kelsey Rodriguez drilled an RBI double of her own, Kylie Jeffs singled and winning pitcher Abbey Martin smacked a run-scoring single. Kylee Allen then sliced a two-run single down the right-field line to make it 7-1, and Blacker soon came up again and capped the seven-run uprising with an RBI single for an 8-1 lead.
Jeffs doubled and scored on Allen's groundout in the sixth to make it 9-1 as Box Elder, last year's 4A state runner-up, improved its league-leading record to 6-0 and moved to 13-3 overall.
Martin and Blacker each finished with three hits and an RBI apiece, while Horne, Jeffs and Allen each had a pair of hits. Jeffs, who came into the game in the fifth inning, wound up scoring twice, and seven other players each scored a run for Box Elder.
"They did their jobs," Coach Hodgson said. "They advanced their base runners and took it one hit at a time, and that's what they're supposed to do. ... They were kinda being a little bit selfish in the other innings, not team hitting.
"They realized, 'I've just got a job to do and I only have to win one pitch.' That's what they're supposed to do — team hitters, get their bunts down, put the ball in play on the ground and make 'em work hard.
"Our defense works really hard, too," she said. "I think that's the big difference is our defense. We work really hard on defense to make sure we give our pitchers the best opportunity, so they can give us a ground ball or a fly out."
Martin came on to pitch with no outs and a runner on base in the fourth inning and went the rest of the way, shutting out the Royals over the final four innings, even though she gave up six hits.
"When I went into the game, I knew that I had to have confidence in myself and let my team know that I was there to back 'em up," Martin said. "Even if it was a tight ballgame, I would be there to back 'em up in anything.
"And I had to have confidence in myself and let my team know that I had confidence so that they all know that everyone has confidence in everyone."
"Abbey's a great pitcher," Coach Hodgson said. "She's a senior, she's a good leader, and she got three base hits, too, so she really helped herself out. She and Molly, those seniors, they step up and the underclassmen kind of follow suit. When they're leading the way and being good teammates, that's what you get."
For Roy (3-2, 6-10), Kylee Blaugh had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and knocked in the Royals' only run with a shot to the left-field fence that tied it at 1-1 in the third inning. Brittni Higgs also had three hits, including a double, and scored Roy's only run.