"I'm excited to play Springville," Salem Hills coach Renae Kinghorn said. "Their record is not indicative of the kind of team they are. They are very good."
"Both teams are solid," Springville head coach Karl Jensen said. "Pitching is excellent both ways. We've practiced hard all week. We need to be disciplined at the plate and maintain our composure. Let's play ball."
Play ball, they did.
Both starting pitchers — Springville's Miranda Follette and Salem Hills' Kirtlyn Bohling — were dominant from the mound, but after a scoreless opening five innings the Skyhawks put four runs across in the sixth inning en route to a 5-1 win over Springville.
"This was a tough game," said Kinghorn. "The win will propel us for the rest of the year as we finish Region 8 and head into the state tournament. I am very relieved we won."
As it played out, Follette and Bohling both pitched very well from the mound, ably backed up by their respective defenses.
The Skyhawks opened the second inning with a single by Bohling (2 for 4, two RBIs), but Follette struck out one Skyhawk, threw another out at first and struck a second batter out to end the threat.
Springville opened the fourth with a double to the fence by Hannah Packard, and it looked to be the Red Devils who would draw first blood. Two pop outs to Skyhawks shortstop Abbie Tuttle and a strikeout by Bohling ended that threat, though.
"I was just pitching so my defense could make plays," Bohling said.
After that sequence, the bats went quiet again — until the sixth inning.
In the top of the sixth, Salem Hills first baseman Kenzie Martin (3 for 4) led off with a single up the right-field line. That was followed by doubles from Tuttle (2 for 4), left fielder Ashley Whiting and Bohling. An error in the field by the Red Devils made it 4-0 for the Skyhawks.
At that juncture, Follette was replaced by freshman Kaycie Jensen, who forced a ground ball and struck out two to retire the side.
"SHS is tough at home," said Kinghorn. "They have great arms in the outfield. Karl is a terrific coach. Miranda threw the best we have seen her throw. She kept our batters off balance and unsure."
Salem Hills' four runs put Springville behind the 8 ball, but it looked like the Red Devils were up to the challenge when second baseman Annie Anderson led off with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Following a Skyhawk error, Anderson scored, making it 4-1. But that was all Springville could muster.
Salem Hills catcher Kailee Simons led off the seventh with a single, then a couple of Springville miscues got her home. In the bottom of the inning, Tuttle threw out the first batter for Springville and Bohling struck out two more batters to end the game.
"We knew we needed to come out strong and stay away from their pitcher's rise ball," said Packard.
"We knew if we could put together a few hits and contain their small-ball, we had a pretty good chance, SHS shortstop Ashley Averett said.
The win moves Salem Hills to 10-1 in Region 8 play, while Springville falls to 6-5.
"We aren't discouraged," said Jensen. "We played a great game against a very good team."
Troy Bohling is the coordinator of school services for Nebo School District. He was previously an assistant principal at Salem Hills High School from 2008-12. His daughter Kirtlyn plays for Salem Hills. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org