Both the Skyhawks and the Red Devils remained scoreless through seven innings with pitchers Kirtlyn Bohling (17 K's) and Kacie Jensen (11 K's) stifling the bats of the opposition, reminiscent of their first contest, which Springville won 1-0. In the eighth, it was the bats of Salem Hills that determined the outcome as the Skyhawks scored three runs to beat the Red Devils 3-1.
Springville head softball coach, Jill Thackeray said before the game, "As usually happens when we play Salem, I expect the game to go down to the wire. Keys for us to win the game will be getting base runners on and executing. Defensively, we have to make the plays we should make and back up our pitcher."
Salem Hills coach Renae Kinghorn said, "I expect this to be a very good, close game. I think the keys to winning this game are making plays on defense for all seven innings and executing in hitting situations."
Is there an echo in here?
Thackeray went on, "Obviously today is a huge game since we are tied with Salem for second place. Every loss in this region has ramifications because it is such a strong region. A win would be a huge confidence booster and give us momentum going into our last four games of region."
Kinghorn echoed, "A win for us today would be huge because it would secure a likely No. 2 spot in region, which is where we want to get to going into state. We need to be in the No. 1 or 2 spot in order to play at home."
Echo like the first inning.
Salem Hills' lead-off batter, Tiffany Madson, who leads the team in batting average (over .500 with Thursday's 3 for 5 performance), began with an infield single. Springville's Annie Anderson also singled for the Red Devils in their half of the inning. Both teams left two stranded. Both teams' pitchers struck out three.
In the second inning, Salem Hills had three singles but could not push a runner across as Jensen struck out two. Bohling threw nine straight strikes for the Skyhawks, sitting down three of her own. At one point, Bohling sat down seven consecutive Red Devils.
The bats for both teams were silent until the sixth inning, when both teams' lead-off batters reached on hits. For the Skyhawks, Kenzie Martin beat a double off the left-field fence. For Springville, Natalie Sumsion had a gutsy at-bat, resulting in a single. But then it was three straight strike-outs by Jensen and two pop ups and a ground-out for the Skyhawks defense, keeping both teams scoreless. The seventh was similar.
Opening the extra inning with a runner in scoring position, Salem Hills' Alexis Oveson laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, moving Kenzie Cowden to third. Martin (2 for 4, two doubles) then ripped another double for the go-ahead RBI. And the hits kept coming.
Martin said, "We played as a team today and didn't get down. I just wanted to do anything to help my team out. I decided that if it was a strike, I was swinging. I wasn't nervous at all."
The next batter, Skyhawk left fielder Ashley Whiting, then stepped to the plate and got a two-run homer.
Whiting said, "When Kenzie got that hit, I was completely relaxed. I knew Kacie was going to throw me high, so I tried to lay off her rise ball. When I hit it, I ran hard, then looked up and saw the left fielder running toward the fence, and I thought it might have a chance."
Springville never gave up, however, and was able to score a run when Tiana Ta'ala singled in the lead runner. But Bohling had two strike-outs in the inning to bring another nail-biter to an end.
Bohling said, "Because our last game with Springville was so tight, I knew I had to throw well today. Amelia and I talked before the game and just decided that we needed to own it. We were going to do everything we could to keep them off the bases. Riley (Brinkerhoff, Salem Hills' pitching coach) worked with me a lot before the game on keeping my snaps tight. Today was perfect leading into next week's important games."
Next week, Springville faces Spanish Fork and Maple Mountain. Salem Hills faces off against Timpview, Spanish Fork and Grantsville.
Troy Bohling can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.