RIVERTON — Playing a talented team like Riverton is always tough.
But add to the challenge the fact the Murray softball team spent last week on spring break and away from official practices and the day before the game in a gym thanks to unseasonably cold weather.
"It is a little nerve-wracking," said center fielder Malia Campos after Murray rallied in the sixth inning to beat Riverton 3-2. "I honestly was (nervous). Riverton is a great team. We get pumped for big games like this."
But spending the day before that big game inside a gymnasium isn't the ideal pre-game plan.
"We definitely knew we were going to have a good game coming in," said Murray coach Lisa Parker. "So I wasn't quite sure how they were going to come out. And they came out pretty sluggish. But they came back pretty well."
The Silverwolves scored in the second and fifth innings to take a 2-0 lead. The Spartans then found their bats in the sixth inning, starting with Sara Park's double to right field. Park scored when Lauren Bell hit a long fly to right, earning the team's third double of the day. Senior Tanisha Anderson hit a single to get on base, and then senior third baseman Maddy Woodard smacked a line drive to left field that scored both base runners.
It was all the offense the Spartans needed to beat Riverton. What sealed the win was some huge defensive plays in the last two innings. Campos had several huge catches including a diving catch near the infield that robbed Riverton of what should have been a base hit.
"I think our defense got us fired up today," said Parker. "With Malia's catches, (Lauren) Bell having that nice back-hand with the bases loaded to get us out of that (sixth) inning."
The loss stung for the Silverwolves a bit more because they lost in almost the same way to Bingham last week.
"It's focus," said Riverton coach Emily Bateman. "It's sprint; it's hustle."
There were bright spots, like sophomore Whitney Larson's home run, her first as the starting designated hitter.
"We have so much potential," said Bateman. "They have the ability to be a great team. Right now we're just playing good. They have to decide to play great."
Park, who has signed with Snow College, hit two doubles in the win.
In fact, Murray has five seniors who've signed to play softball in college. Woodard, Campos and Anderson are playing for SLCC next year. Pitcher Braylee Butcher, who earned the win Tuesday, will play for Mesa State College.
Having so many players earning scholarships has changed the expectations and aspirations of the girls in the program.
"Awesome," said Parker of how it feels to have so many college players. "I've never had that many. I've known since these kids were freshman that they were awesome.
I could tell when they were young that they were going to be special. They're kids who weren't afraid to work hard. It's done great things for the program."
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