Woods Cross won’t soon forget its 2013 senior day. For the first time in three years, the Wildcats beat Bountiful, 1-0, behind the stellar pitching of Hanalee Robinson and a stingy defense that made play after play.
“From pregame on we knew we had a job to do. We were David today. We faced a Goliath in Bountiful. I’m so proud of these girls,” Woods Cross head coach Chad Lythgoe said while fighting back his emotions after the win.
Goliath did not go down without a fight. Down to its last out, and with no one on base, Bountiful staged a furious rally. Sydney Austin, Bailey Hart and Payton Hart all hit infield singles to load the bases. That’s when Bountiful’s power hitting pitcher, Belle Stoddard, came to bat.
“All I was thinking is that girl can hit,” Woods Cross second baseman Hailee Rogers recounted of her thoughts as Stoddard came to the plate.
The Wildcats’ Robinson remained calm and focused. “(Stoddard) is a good hitter,” Robinson said. “I wanted to pitch around her, but couldn’t. I wanted to do this for my team and pay them back because my defense had been so good all day.”
Stoddard swung at Robinson’s first pitch and drove the ball high and deep to left field. The crowd held its collective breath as Woods Cross’ Maddie Sorensen raced back near the fence, nestled under the ball, and squeezed it for the clinching out.
“We trusted the defense. It was strong all day. They had a great hitter up. We just put it in the hands of our defense and we came through,” Lythgoe said.
Woods Cross took the lead in the second inning on timely hitting. With two outs, senior Hailee Rogers walked. Maddie Sorensen singled, moving Rogers to third. Senior Ashley Allen then singled to right field, scoring Rogers. It was the only run Robinson would need.
Robinson scattered nine Braves' hits and seemingly pitched out of trouble all afternoon. In the second inning, with a runner at second base, Braves’ left fielder Caramae Fackrell singled sharply to center field. The Braves' base runner raced home from second but was thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw from Wildcat senior center fielder Bre Price.
The Braves put runners on again in the third, this time loading the bases with two outs. Bountiful’s Stoddard smashed a ground ball up the middle. Wildcat second baseman Hailee Rogers dove for the ball but could only deflect it. The deflection went right to shortstop Alyson Lythgoe, who was standing on second base and forced out the runner to end the inning.
Bountiful put runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings, but was never able to push across a run. Braves’ head coach Butch Latey said, “We just left too many runners on base, but give them credit. They beat us. They didn’t make a mistake all game.”
Woods Cross third baseman Daphne Robinson played particularly well, shutting down the Braves’ contingency of slap hitters. “Coach told me to be ready for short stuff. He wanted me to stay low when I throw — and not stand up — so I could get it to first quicker,” the senior said. She would assist on six outs.
The win is Woods Cross’ fifth straight, just in time for the state tournament. “It’s been three years since we beat (Bountiful). It feels pretty amazing. They are an awesome team. We have worked so hard. We lost five in a row earlier this season but (coach Lythgoe) didn’t give up on us. He stayed with us. We love him. It is so fun to reward him,” Rogers said.
Woods Cross hopes to continue its winning streak when it faces Mountain View Friday in a state tournament play in game. The Braves have their senior day Friday against Hunter.
J. David Pearce is general counsel with Beneficial Life Insurance Co.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company