High school softball: Salem Hills beats Bonneville twice to earn 2nd-straight 4A title

Published: Thursday, May 22 2014 11:05 p.m. MDT

Salem Hills' Annalee Casteberry, far right, hugs Manni Johnson after winning the 4A high school softball championship game against Bonneville at the Valley Regional Softball Complex Thursday, May 22, 2014 in Taylorsville.

Hugh Carey, Deseret News

TAYLORSVILLE — Bonneville High's defense had an uncharacteristic off-day that threw the door wide open for Salem Hills.

And the Skyhawks stormed right through it with an effort befitting of a true, two-time state champion.

With senior right-hander Kirtlyn Bohling handcuffing the Lakers' batters with a pair of superb pitching performances, and she and her teammates capitalizing on Bonneville's defensive miscues with some mighty timely hitting, the Skyhawks stormed to their second-straight 4A state softball championship Thursday night.

Salem Hills (24-8) smacked Bonneville 10-1 in the first matchup, forcing a second "if" game, and the Skyhawks spanked the Lakers again 8-2 to wrap up their second-straight state title at the Valley Complex.

Salem Hills coach Renae Kinghorn was very emotional after watching her team win three games — they beat Spanish Fork 4-3 in eight innings earlier Thursday to reach the finals — to take home the title again.

"It's just this group of girls is just really special," she said. "We're gonna lose a lot of seniors, so I'm a little sad about that.

"I actually think it's better than last year, 'cause we fought through the losers bracket this time. It was tougher. We showed more guts, we showed more heart. I mean, obviously beating Box Elder last year (for the title) was not an easy task, but beating Spanish Fork to get to this game — are you kidding me? — that felt really good to beat Spanish to get here because they are tough. So that was fun for us.

"And I think after we beat Spanish, I think we were kind of unstoppable, as it showed," Kinghorn said. "We were kinda on fire; we've been here before, we know what this stage feels like. I don't think Bonneville really has been here (for a while), so maybe that kinda shell-shocked them a little bit.

"When we played them on Tuesday, they were solid — completely, absolutely solid defensively. But today we came out with a little bit more confidence, I think, and a little bit more fire than we came out on Tuesday, so that served us well. And I think the jitters of a big game got to Bonneville a little bit."

Bohling, who picked up the gritty complete-game, eight-inning victory earlier in the day over Spanish Fork to give Salem Hills its shot at the title, turned right around and shut down Bonneville's bats in back-to-back games.

She pitched six shutout innings in the 10-1 win, allowing just two hits, and then held the Lakers (24-5) to one run on six hits over seven innings in the 8-2 title clincher.

"I got a little drained at the beginning of that last game," she said. "I was a little tired. But my defense made the plays I needed and they stepped up. They played so tight that I didn't have to worry — if (Bonneville) got a bat on the ball, (her defense) made the play on it. It was nice.

"It's a little bit sweeter this year because we had to work so hard or we didn't have a chance. ... We didn't come into it expecting to win, and we just had to take it one pitch at a time and one inning at a time, and that was kind of a hard goal today.

"It definitely made it sweeter when you work so hard," Bohling said. "It's so nice to see the reward of it. I wouldn't want it any other way."

Kinghorn had nothing but high praise for the determined performance of her star senior right-hander.

"Kirtlyn Bohling, she's unstoppable," the Skyhawks' coach said. "She pitched three games today, five games in two days, and you can't ask that of a pitcher; you can't ask anybody to do that. But she would not just stop.

"She is so tough — one of the best athletes I have ever seen in my life. ... She wanted it; she was hungry, and she got it."

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