PAYSON The matchup between Tooele and Payson was so hyped up over the past couple of weeks that Tooele softball coach Barry Pitt had to tell his girls to stop reading the blogs and just concentrate on the game.
The extreme focus must have worked because after a bit of a slow start Tuesday afternoon, the Buffalo took command from the pitching circle in the second inning and finished it off from the batter's box in the seventh with a 5-1 Region 7 victory.
"We just wanted to come prepared and try to play our game," said Pitt, who also noted that through the first six innings his team was hitting the ball pretty well but couldn't find the holes. The Lions were playing a solid brand of defense as well.
And through six innings, the Buffalo found themselves hanging by their fingernails to a 2-1 lead as neither team had committed an error in the field and Tooele pitcher Lauren Folta had hurled a two-hitter.
Then came the Tooele half of the final inning.
"The top of the lineup knew what they could do and knew they hadn't been doing that so far in the game," said Pitt.
Leadoff batter Mattie Snow rocked a single to center field and fired up the rest of her team. Folta came to the plate and helped herself with a double to left, bringing Snow home and picking up an RBI. She then scored the fourth Buffalo run on Payson's first error of the game. Kelsey Mendenhall had grounded out, but there was an error on the throw back from first to third in an attempt to get the extra out, in turn the runner crossed home plate while the Lions were picking up the ball.
Brittany Gonzales proved again that she's fearsome from the plate as she smacked a triple to deep right field and later scored the run on a wild pitch, giving the Buffalo a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
"A one-run lead is only one swing of the bat. We always want to get the cushion. It builds us up as much as it tears them down," said Pitt after his team's solid seventh.
The Lions were only able to put one runner on base, as the Buffalo committed their only error of the contest. But it didn't matter as Folta struck out a pair in the inning, and Jessie Uresti lined out to Whitnie Holt to end the game.
Payson's only two hits came in the form of singles by Lacie Zeeman and Karlie Mangelsen in the first inning. Zeeman crossed the plate on Mangelsen's RBI before Folta took charge and the Buffalo came charging back.
Marissa Mendenhall and Aly Jensen each singled in the second to give the Buffalo their first run, and Kelsey Mendenhall added another single in the fourth, followed by a double by Holt in the fourth, eventually leading to the second and game-winning run.
"Our two freshmen, Marissa and Whitnie, really stepped up and were both hitting the ball well," said Pitt.Folta also added a pair of hits in addition to her pitching heroics. Mattie Show and Jensen also each smacked a pair of hits for the Red Devils.