Kimbri is a stud,” Basett said emphatically. “That’s all I have to say. She is one of the best pitchers I know, and I’m so happy to have her on our team. —Stansbury center fielder Janessa Bassett
SPANISH FORK — Stansbury pitcher Kimbri Herring isn’t going to deny the fact that she felt the weight of leading her teammates to a 3A softball title this season.
“There was definitely some pressure,” she said.
But instead of buckling under that pressure, she used it to her advantage.
“I like to live in the moment,” said the junior, who threw every inning of Stansbury’s championship run that ended with an 8-3 victory over Uintah Saturday afternoon at the Spanish Fork Softball Complex. “And in the moment, I just fed off of it. This was so much fun. We tried to have fun and play our best every game.”
In giving their best effort, she said they knew they would have no regrets.
“I’m so proud of my teammates,” she said smiling as they celebrated with their new trophy behind her. “They played so well. Our hitting was amazing.”
Stansbury’s offense was unstoppable, especially in the 3A tournament’s last three games. Not only did the Stallions earn double-digit hits in each of the games leading up to Saturday’s championship, they hit so well right from the start of the title game that Uintah was forced to change pitchers after the first seven batters.
It started with a single from one of the team’s two seniors, the one they call Cheetah.
“I’m so sad this is the end for us,” said that player, center fielder Janessa Bassett, who will play at Dixie State University next year. “But I’m happy we took state.”
Bassett didn’t even attempt to stop the tears as she talked about the season. When asked about Herring, she not only stopped crying, she beamed.
“Kimbri is a stud,” Basett said emphatically. “That’s all I have to say. She is one of the best pitchers I know, and I’m so happy to have her on our team.”
Bassett’s single was followed by left fielder Kilee Christianson’s two-run home run. At the end of the first inning, Stansbury led top-ranked Uintah 5-0.
Shortstop Anjalee Batchelor hit two home runs in the win, while Bassett had a catch that almost took her over the fence to rob Uintah of what would have been a two-run home run.
The Stallions had the unique experience of feeling the pressure of trying to repeat as state champions, while being underestimated by some because five seniors graduated off of that 2013 title-winning team.
“We lost five seniors from last year’s team,” said coach Bridget Clinton. “Nobody thought that we would even be where we are now, let alone state champions.”
Trying to get back into that title game was, in many ways, tougher than earning that first championship, which was the first athletic title for the school.
“It’s always harder (to repeat) because you have a big X on your back,” Clinton said. “Every single game we played is just a tough game. We never had an easy game. But it obviously pays off doing that.”
Clinton praised her offense and raved about her pitcher.
“Kimbri is a workhorse,” she said. “She’s thrown every single inning of almost every single game this whole year. That’s a whole lot of pressure.”
Earning a second state title was no small feat, and it required this year’s team to overcome difficult times on and off the field.
“It’s been a special year because the girls have been through a lot,” Clinton said. “It’s been tough emotionally, but they persevered. They played hard, and they played like they were playing for something extra. They came together.”
The two players who led that effort were the team’s only seniors — Bassett and second baseman Beth Chipman.
“(Chipman) is the quietest kid,” Clinton said after being doused with water by two of her players. “She keeps everybody calm; she’s the best hitter on the team. She’s just clutch. And then Janessa in the outfield, those players don’t come along very often. Its’ been awesome to coach them.”
There wasn’t a player on the roster who didn’t contribute in some way to Saturday’s title.
“All 20 of them have something they do that’s unique,” Clinton said. “Whether it’s cheering in the dugout or setting our bags up in the right spot — because we’re not superstitious at all. It was a total team effort.”
While it was not the trophy they set out to earn, the Utes were proud of the effort that took them all the way to the season’s final game. They were able to get runners on the bases, but they couldn’t bring them home consistently. They won a thriller in Saturday’s earlier game, beating Canyon View with a come-from-behind effort that included home runs from shortstop Drew Smuin and center fielder Tosh Barker.
“They played their hearts out,” said Uintah coach Jamey Smuin of his players. “They played as hard as they could. They knew we could get here, and we did.”
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