TAYLORSVILLE — Mikki Jackson doesn't claim to be psychic, but she did have a feeling that the Bingham Miners softball team was going to be tested in ways that it had not been challenged this year.
“In our pre-state (meeting), I said, ‘You guys, I know we have another challenge ahead of us. Somewhere in this, we’re going to have to come from behind, we’re going to have to dig deeper than we have been,’ ” said the Bingham head coach after the top-ranked Miners defeated 5A state champion Weber 3-2 in a come-from-behind thriller in the 5A quarterfinals.
“When I took that time out, I said, ‘Remember when we talked about this? This is that moment we were talking about. You guys have been trying to work through it, and this is one of those critical times when we step up to what we knew we were going to face,’ ” Jackson said.
The Miners embraced the challenge of facing last year’s 5A MVP in Weber pitcher McKenna Bull.
“That was a great pitching effort on her part,” said Jackson, who said she’d heard the BYU-bound senior was throwing even better in the playoffs. “That’s exactly what we were afraid of. I thought she did a great job. I thought we did a much better job of staying off of her dominant pitches than last year.” Bingham hadn’t seen Weber since last season when the Warriors eliminated the Miners from the 5A tournament. Jackson said avenging last year’s loss might have been a factor, but it wasn’t the overwhelming sentiment Tuesday night.
“I think for these guys they’ve kind of put the past behind them, and they’re learning to play for themselves,” she said. “Those things are motivational, but not as much with these guys. They’re still going, ‘Oh, look what we can do.’ And each day they’re finding there is stuff inside of them that’s bigger than before. So I don’t know that it’s always about revenge. I think they just want to play the game.”
Both teams played well, with Weber’s second baseman Kennede Clarke hitting a double to get on base and then scoring when Hali Bennion smacked a single. Despite earning six hits in the game, the Warriors couldn’t score the rest of the game thanks to Bingham’s defensive effort.
The final play of the game was made by freshman shortstop Torre Glasker, who fielded a hard grounder and made the throw to first. The fact that it ended the game was only one of the reasons it was significant.
“That play right there was big time,” Jackson said with a grin. “That was really big. And I think what’s important about it is that she’d just made the mistake (which put a runner on first base) the inning before. We’ve really been emphasizing, ‘You’re going to get another chance. It’s going to come around again.’ ”
Glasker scored Bingham’s first run in the first inning when catcher Chelsea Latu hit a single.
Jackson said Glasker played forward and kept the tying run from advancing. Senior pitcher Paige Reimann was also tested to see if she could shake off disappointment and deliver.
“She struggled in her first at bats and then she gets the hit (that scored the game-tying and game-winning runs) — against a very tough pitcher,” said Jackson.
Reimann said the hit felt good simply because she wasn’t thinking about the pressure of coming to bat with two outs and the two critical runs sitting on base when she stepped into the batter’s box.
“I just finally focused and told myself I could do it,” she said. “And then I watched it hit the bat.” She applied the same logic to her pitching.
“I was just telling myself, ‘One pitch at a time and trust my teammates,’ ” Reimann said. “I knew if they got a hit off of me, (my team) could back me up.”
The Miners will play Copper Hills in Wednesday’s semifinal at 5:15, while Riverton and Weber will play Lehi and Davis, respectively, in the one-loss bracket at 3 p.m. All of the 4A and 5A softball playoff games are at the Valley Complex in Taylorsville.
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