With four games scheduled this week, the anxiousness of Bountiful’s softball team increased with each passing rain-out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
By the time the Braves finally took the field on Friday, they took their frustration with Mother Nature out on the East Leopards.
With first place in Region 6 up for grabs, visiting Bountiful jumped all over East, scoring six runs in the first two innings as it coasted the rest of the way for the 6-0 victory.
“They were raring to go, and that might’ve had a lot to do with the first inning,” said coach Butch Latey, whose team improved to 5-0 in region with the victory, and now owns a two-game lead on East.
The early run support was more than enough for Belle Stoddard. The senior struck out 10 batters and only allowed three hits as her change-up and rise ball kept East’s hitters off-balanced all game.
“When we got to the field, we talked about focusing really hard and respecting our opponent, and I was just really dialed in and ready to play today. I was excited to get out on the mound,” said Stoddard.
At the plate, her line-drive homer in the second inning increased the lead to 6-0 and realistically was a mental dagger for the underdog Leopards. The home run was Stoddard’s first of the season after she popped five last year.
Even though Bountiful didn’t do much offensively after the first two innings, it didn’t really matter, the damage was already done.
The Braves didn’t necessarily hit the ball hard in the four-run first inning, but they put the ball in play, and that was good enough.
“We said before the game, if we don’t strike out we should have a chance to move somebody. And we did well on that, we didn’t have any strikeouts today,” said Latey.
Lead-off hitter Sydney Austin reached base on an error in the first inning and came around to score four batters later on a bases-loaded fielders choice by catcher Kristi DuBois. With one out, DuBois hit a grounder to East’s third baseman, but instead of taking the sure out at third she tried to get the force at home, and Austin narrowly beat the throw home for the 1-0 lead.
On the next at bat, Cara Mae Fackrell increased the lead to 3-0 with a two-run single to right. Following another single by Landi Hawker and then a double-steal by Fackrell and Hawker, Fackrell came around to score on an Anne Marie Allred sacrifice fly.
Hawker and Bailey Hart finished with two hits each for Bountiful.
With the 4-0 early lead, Stoddard took the mound with confidence, improving to 10-1 on the season.
“It’s huge to come out and have run support. You’re so much more comfortable on the mound, you’re a lot more relaxed,” said Stoddard.
East tried to get a rally going in the seventh as Kuea Angilau and Michelle Thomas ripped hard singles off Stoddard to center field. On East's next at bat, Bountiful first baseman Brook Dickerson doubled up Thomas after snaring a line drive to first, and then Allred ended the game with a diving catch in right field.