SPANISH FORK — Kali Thomson wanted to make the most of her final season of high school softball.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was just to prove myself,” the senior said after she led top-ranked Manti over defending 2A state champion San Juan 10-1.“I really wanted to be the best I could. So I ended up working out more. I trained every day, I still work out. It was a lot of hard work by myself.”
It’s paid off as Thomson has led the Templars to a 25-1 season and a berth into the state champion game Saturday afternoon. The biggest difference is in her confidence. “I’m no longer worried about getting strikes or balls,” she said. “I’m focused on ball movement. Even when teams are hitting me, I don’t worry about it because I know I can control it.”
That was certainly the case Friday night as the Templars continued their domination of the 2A state softball tournament with a victory over San Juan. The Templars have scored 53 runs and given up only three runs to opponents.
“I didn’t realize it was that much,” said Manti head coach Susan Hatch. That’s because the team focuses only on the most immediate task. “You’ve just got to focus on each game, on each inning,” she said. “We also talked about staying consistent throughout the game — offensively and defensively.”
The Templars had 16 hits to the Broncos' five hits. Not only did they put the ball in play, but they ran the bases aggressively, taking risks that often paid big rewards. The Broncos' only run came when Kellie Palmer hit a home run in the sixth inning, while the Tempars scored in every inning except the sixth.
Mikaela Cox hit two triples and went 3-for-5, while Lizzy Palmer hit a double in the win. The Broncos struggled at the plate, but they also made some costly fielding errors. Hatch said she told her players to relax and have fun. “They play better when they’re relaxed,” she said. “In fact, they seemed more calm today than yesterday.”
Before the game that decided which team entered the 2A title game unbeaten, the Templars were signing and joking as they waited to warm up. “We’re not looking ahead,” said Thomson. “We’re looking at the now.”
Thomson said the team feels comfortable and confident in themselves and each other. “We have strong team unity,” she said. “We’re not afraid to sing out loud. We know we play better when we’re having fun.”
South Summit defeated Emery 8-2 to earn a shot at San Juan in Saturday morning’s elimination bracket semifinal. The winner of that game will face Manti for the championship at 12:15 at the Spanish Fork Softball Complex. Manti defeated Enterprise 15-0 in Friday’s first round, while San Juan beat Gunnison 16-4.