Alta softball pitcher Nikki Anderson has been doing a number on everybody she's faced this year. Double-digit strikeout performances have been commonplace.
Thursday was no different for the impressive freshman.Facing one batter more than the minimum, Anderson struck out 15 and improved her record to 5-0 as the second-ranked Hawks defeated Skyline 2-0 in the second round of the 5A state tournament.
The win left Alta as one of only four unbeaten teams remaining in the double-elimination tournament, along with Viewmont, Jordan and Bingham.
Anderson had recorded 11, 12 and 14 strikeouts in games this season but set her short career record by striking out the side in the seventh inning. She allowed just a bunt single in the fourth inning to Amy Plant.
"Our bats just weren't working," said Skyline coach Denice Long. "I think we were tight because we wanted to beat (Alta) so badly."
As dominating as she can be, Anderson is only one of four pitchers who make up a strong Hawk staff.
"It doesn't matter (who is pitching) our staff is so good," said Alta coach Vaughn Alvey, whose other pitchers include Tanna Alvey, Cami Carter and Jenna Merchant. "We're just really fortunate."
On the flip side, Skyline pitcher McKinsey Sudbury had a pretty decent game herself, allowing just two bunt singles. Both runners, however, came around to score in the same fashion.
In the third inning, Erin Ross bunted her way on, moved to second on a sacrifice and stole third with two outs. Megan Johnson then laid down a bunt, and Ross scored as the Skyline catcher couldn't hold onto the throw home.
"We took a chance and it worked," said Alvey. "It could have killed us, too."
Alta added its second run in much the same fashion as Holly Roberts stole second and third after her fifth-inning single. Johnson then laid down another two-out bunt, and a poor throw from third allowed Roberts to score.
With the loss, Skyline must face Layton in the elimination bracket on Wednesday as the tournament moves on to the Cottonwood Complex. Alta advances in the championship bracket to face arch-rival and top-ranked Bingham.