Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Taylorsville's Heather Gardner, center, is congratulated by teammates at home plate after hitting a grand slam against Riverton during the 5A softball semifinals at Valley Softball Complex Wednesday.

TAYLORSVILLE — Any win in the circle is sweet for a pitcher, but Wednesday night's semifinal victory over Riverton was especially satisfying for senior hurler Ashlee Moore.

"I can't say enough about Ashlee," said Kaelin after the Warriors earned a 10-0 win over Riverton in five innings Wednesday at the Valley Softball Complex.

"She went to Riverton her freshman year and didn't pitch at all. ... She has just improved by leaps and bounds."

Moore said the win was exciting because it puts the defending 5A champs back in the title game, but she, and her teammates, wanted to redeem themselves after losing to Riverton in nonregion action earlier this season.

"I wanted payback," said senior Heather Gardner, who hit a double and a grand slam in the win.

Moore added, "I played with a lot of those girls, so it was nice to play well."

Gardner said it was more about playing their game than it was avenging the loss.

"We didn't play too well and what we wanted to do was hit well," Gardner said.

Moore laughs and says, "Well, you did that!"

The Warriors' offense got started in the second inning with two hits, but it was the third inning when the team got red-hot at the plate. Shortstop Tia Palauni started the rally with a single, and then catcher Cyd Allen smacked a single. Right fielder Marqi Gray was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and that brought Gardner, who was playing left field, to the plate.

"Coach told me to be aggressive because she was throwing strikes, and I let two go by," Gardner said.

Kaelin added, "She let two perfect strikes go by and I was thinking, 'No! No! No!' And then she just swung away."

The Warriors' offense was so potent, Riverton used three different pitchers to try and slow them down. In the end, nothing could stall the hitters and the game ended early due to the 10-run rule.

Taylorsville relies on both Moore and Gardner to pitch, and it's what they call the perfect system.

"I think it works really well," said Gardner. Adds Moore, "We have each other's backs. We're so different."

That difference usually works to the Warriors' advantage. Although, it helps either pitcher when the batters are working as well as they were Wednesday.

"It made me nervous when she got two strikes," said Moore. "But after she hit that home run, I went out and threw it harder."

Gardner said runs on the board mean the pitchers have a little breathing room.

"You don't have to worry about every single pitch being a threat," she said.

Moore and Gardner are two of the six Taylorsville seniors that have signed with different colleges to play softball, and no matter who steps into the circle in the championship game, both girls said they're just happy to have another shot at the title.

"I'm really excited," Gardner said. Adds Moore, "It's awesome."

As for Riverton, it will face region-rival Bingham in the 9:45 a.m. game for another shot at Taylorsville. The Miners defeated Fremont 4-1 to earn the chance to play for a championship berth.

Bingham defeated Riverton twice in region play, but Riverton coach Emily Cederholm said she plans on her team shaking off the loss and playing well today.

"We're still alive," said Cederholm. "We have every opportunity to come back and be in that championship game. I told my team, 'Be ready to fight because we're not dead yet.'"


E-mail: adonaldson@desnews.com