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High school softball: No. 4 Juan Diego knocks off determined Wasatch

Published: Saturday, April 20 2013 7:00 a.m. MDT

Junior Hailee Hardman, who has been hot at the plate in recent weeks, continued that trend with two hits against Juan Diego. (Tracy Bills) Junior Hailee Hardman, who has been hot at the plate in recent weeks, continued that trend with two hits against Juan Diego. (Tracy Bills)

HEBER CITY — The Wasatch High School softball team has been exceeding expectations this season, racking up 11 wins overall and four in Region 10. On Friday, in chilly Heber City, the Wasps welcomed fourth-ranked Juan Diego for an afternoon game that would be the biggest test to date for the home team.

Wasatch didn't pass that test, but didn't go down without a fight, falling to the Soaring Eagle 5-0. The Wasps held their own for most of the game, surrendering only one run in the third inning, but allowed the visitors to put up four more runs in the top of the seventh — making it look worse for Wasatch than it was.

As it played out, those runs did in the normally heavy-hitting Wasps, who managed only six hits while suffering their first shutout of the season. Even though they only put up zeros in the scoring column, the game could be looked upon as a moral victory for the young Wasps, who were heavy underdogs to the mighty Soaring Eagle.

Third baseman Tristin Bills awaits the throw to put down the tag on a Soaring Eagle base runner. Bills had three hits in Friday afternoon's game. (Tracy Bills) Third baseman Tristin Bills awaits the throw to put down the tag on a Soaring Eagle base runner. Bills had three hits in Friday afternoon's game. (Tracy Bills)

Until the four-run burst in the last frame, Juan Diego could only manage one run following a walk, an infield hit and a two-base error. Otherwise, Wasatch played up to its opponent, seemingly ready to take the game to the final at-bat.

The Soaring Eagle, which has grown accustomed to putting up big run totals this campaign, was held in check by the gritty Wasatch defense. Juan Diego put runners on the bases in nearly every inning, yet came away empty when the Wasps stepped it up, keeping the Soaring Eagle from crossing the plate.

Wasatch had only a few opportunities itself, and for the most part could not advance beyond second base. Junior Tristin Bills had three hits, but was met at second base by the ball each time the next batter would come up. Junior Hailee Hardman added two singles and freshman Torri Bills gathered a hit. The younger Bills was the only Wasatch runner to make it as far as third base during the bottom of the fifth, but was not batted in.

Kaitlyn Baird executes a perfect sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning, but Wasatch still failed to score against the fourth-ranked Soaring Eagle. (Tracy Bills) Kaitlyn Baird executes a perfect sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning, but Wasatch still failed to score against the fourth-ranked Soaring Eagle. (Tracy Bills)

The Soaring Eagle defense was tough and pitcher Maddie Davis even tougher.

“We knew she was a good pitcher and that we’d have to really come through on any opportunities we might get,” said Wasatch head coach Gary Roberts. “We had a couple of bad breaks on the base paths which could have changed the game had they gone the other way, but it wasn’t our day for that."

In a season where the young Wasps were not supposed to make a whole lot of noise, they’ve surprised some teams and have put themselves in position to earn the second seed in Region 10.

After an 0-4 start in the preseason, the Wasps turned it around, evening their record at 5-5 when region play started. They swiftly knocked off Union, Uintah, Park City and Judge Memorial, gaining a lot of confidence along the way.

Torri Bills slides hard into second base in an attempt to break up a double play. Bills had one of Wasatch's six hits on the day. (Tracy Bills) Torri Bills slides hard into second base in an attempt to break up a double play. Bills had one of Wasatch's six hits on the day. (Tracy Bills)

With the schedule winding down and four of their last five games being region contests, the Wasps need to stay on their path of playing much-improved softball.

“Today we just couldn’t string any hits together,” said assistant coach Clint Kelson. “Lately we’ve been doing that and scoring runs in bunches, but today we couldn’t get past just the one. We’ll be fine. We can hit and our defense is playing really well right now. We’ll get back after them next week.”

Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: kennywbristow@gmail.com. To contribute to DNews Preps for your area, enquire at 801.237.2143.

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