ST. GEORGE Lauren Folta was almost unhittable for the first five innings, and Tooele teammate Kelcie Mendenhall got the offense on track in a hurry as the Buffaloes powered past Dixie 8-4 to advance to next week's 4A softball semifinals.
After watching the first two Buffs reach base in the top of the first inning, Mendenhall promptly delivered a Delaney Griffith offering well over the center-field fence to give her team a three-run lead before the first out was recorded.
"I was looking for a pitch down and outside that I could drive to right field, and she got it a little over the plate," said Mendenhall, who added a run-scoring double in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Folta was having little trouble with the Flyer hitters in the early going, striking out five consecutive batters over a three-inning stretch allowing just a Mikkel Griffin single over the first five innings.
"I've been sick the last couple of days, and I think that affected me the last couple innings," said the senior hurler, who wound up allowing just three hits while striking out 12.
Asked if he thought about pulling his pitcher late in the game, Tooele coach Barry Pitt said "not with that lead" pointing out that the Buffaloes, the defending 3A state champs, led 7-0 at the time.
Dixie head coach Randy Simpkins was upbeat despite the loss, pointing out "we made real good pitches about 4-5 times and they were able to reach out and just bloop it past our infield, but that's the mark of a good-hitting team."
Simpkins added, "Now we have some time to regroup, see who we play next and get after it."
Griffin added a second single to pace Dixie's attack.
Britney Gonzales added a pair of RBI singles for Tooele, which will face either Region 5 champ Bountiful or Region 6 runner-up Olympus next Tuesday at the Valley Softball Complex.
Asked if she felt Tooele, in its first year in the 4A classification, had something to prove in its next games, Mendenhall whose sister Marissa also starts for the Buffs pointed out "We just want to prove we're a good team wherever we play."