TAYLORSVILLE Rich Kaelin said his team feels no pressure to defend the 5A state softball title they won last season.
"We don't feel it's defending anything," he said of Taylorsville's second-straight appearance in the semifinals. "There's no more pressure on us than there was last year or any other ... It's a different year and a different team."
Still, after defeating Northridge 6-1 in the quarterfinals Tuesday at the Valley Softball Complex, the Warriors have to feel like they are in familiar territory. They are even facing a team they lost to earlier this season Riverton.
"We're both totally different teams," Kaelin said. "I think it will be a really fun game. They played well tonight against Fremont."
Taylorsville didn't look too shabby either as they put up six runs on a team that hadn't allowed a run in the state tournament's first two rounds. In fact, Knights' pitcher Chelsie Olson earned 10 strikeouts against the offensively loaded Warriors.
But right from the start, the Warriors meant to hit the ball. Lead-off batter Brita Noble got on base with a single and then scored on Cyd Allen's single, which should have been a fielder's choice.
In her next at-bat, Noble hit a double with the bases loaded and scored all three runs. In addition to Noble, Kaelin heaped praise on Michon Vanderpoel and Nicole Huntsman, who both went 2-for-3.
"There is no place in our lineup where a pitcher can let up," he said. "They came ready to play tonight and stayed focused."
Northridge's only run was scored by Olson, who crossed home thanks to a double from Kailey Butler in the fifth inning.
Taylorsville pitcher Heather Gardner threw an impressive game and the Warrior defense was almost perfect. Left fielder Sami Parry made a diving catch that capped a night of solid defensive play.
"Heather pitched very, very well," Kaelin said. "Our defense was tough, but it's been solid all year long."
Kaelin hopes that if there is some effect on his team from last year's success it's that they're more experienced, more confident."Kids are so erratic," he said with a shrug. "We just want to be where we're at right now and play our best ... Maybe we're older, wiser and hopefully stronger."
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