TAYLORSVILLE — Neither option was good, but Box Elder had a choice — pitch to Salem Hills’ No. 3 or No. 4 hitter.
The Bees chose the latter, and Kirtlyn Bohling made them pay in a big, big way.
With Tuesday’s highly anticipated 4A showdown tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Bohling followed an intentional walk to teammate Abbie Tuttle with a walk-off grand slam to straightaway center to lift Salem Hills to a thrilling 6-2 victory over Box Elder.
“She picked her poison on that one I guess,” said a smiling Bohling after the game.
With the victory, Salem Hills advances through to the championship game of the 4A winners bracket and will face the winner of Provo and Mountain Crest on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m.
For top-ranked Box Elder, it will need to regroup quickly from its second loss of the season with an elimination game against Roy at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Box Elder was forced into the tough pitching defense in the bottom of the eighth after a successful slap single from Tiffany Madson moved the international tie-breaker runner to third. With runners at the corners and no out, the Bees tried their luck by loading the bases.
“For them to walk Abby was smart for them 'cause she’s dangerous at the plate, but to walk (her) to get to our No. 4 hitter, who also tends to be extremely competitive, that was gutsy. That really was,” said Salem Hills coach Renae Kinghorn.
It backfired, but Bohling said, “either way it was going to get done. I trust my teammates that much.”
The grand slam capped a thrilling back-and-forth game that had Kinghorn talking excitedly afterward.
“That’s how softball should be played. Hats off to them. Box Elder is obviously an extremely tough team. They’re just competitive. They’re well-coached. They have fundamentals down pat. They know what they’re doing. To have that be only their second loss against us was awesome,” she said.
Box Elder got on the board first in the second inning after back-to-back doubles by Molly Horne and Baylee Reeves.
Salem Hills responded in a bizarre fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead.
After Bohling was sacrificed to second by Ashley Whitney, teammate Alexis Oveson followed with what appeared to be a home run just over the left-field fence. After Oveson crossed home plate, however, the umpires conversed and ruled it a ground-rule double.
It didn’t take Oveson long to get back home though.
Amelia Weight followed with an infield single, with the futile throw sailing about 15 feet over the first baseman’s head, allowing Oveson to score for the 2-1 lead.
In the sixth, Box Elder battled back to tie it at 2-2 as Horne doubled home Karly Bunderson. Both teams went quietly in the seventh, setting the stage for Bohling’s heroics.
“I knew we were playing a really good team and that we would have to come really hard and play all seven innings, and knew we couldn’t give up at any point,” said Bohling.
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