The last time Bountiful and Clearfield played, the Falcons brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning only to fall short. Bountiful had no intention of letting Tuesday’s rematch be anywhere near as dramatic.
The Braves used a five-run first inning to run away from Clearfield, 10-0.
“It was super heated the last time we played and we just wanted to focus on us this game,” Bountiful senior catcher Kristi DuBois said following the win.
Bountiful head coach Butch Latey concurred. “I told the girls not to let the fans get to us and to stay focused. Fortunately, our girls stayed focused the whole game,” Latey said.
While Bountiful pounded out 17 hits, the biggest came in the bottom of the first inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Braves slugger Belle Stoddard came to the plate against Clearfield pitcher Bailey Douglas.
“(Douglas) is a good pitcher. She quick-pitches us. I swung late, but I got all of it,” Stoddard said. The ball cleared the wall for a grand slam. The four runs were all the Braves would need.
Stoddard, who finished with five RBIs, also earned the win on the mound for the Braves, recording her 10th shutout of the season.
Clearfield’s head coach, Nicole Tindall, was especially impressed with Stoddard. “We usually are a strong hitting team. (Stoddard) did a good job on the mound. She switched up her pitches and hit her corners today,” Tindall said.
“I knew (the Falcons) were good hitters. I wanted to take my time and hit my corners. If you make a mistake, they will make you pay,” Stoddard said following her performance.
For Bountiful, all nine starters had a base hit. Sydney Austin and Payton Hart led the offensive outburst with three hits each, including a double for each. Kristi DuBois, Caramae Fackrell and Brook Dickerson also hit doubles for the Braves.
The Braves played great defense as well, especially sisters Bailey and Payton Hart. In the third inning, with a runner on first, Clearfield’s Delaney Davis softly lined a ball into the gap in left center. Braves center-fielder Bailey Hart sprinted in and made a diving catch to end the inning.
The Falcons again threatened in the sixth inning. With Karley Williams aboard, Delaney Davis slapped a high bouncing ball deep in the hole between short and third. Bountiful shortstop Payton Hart raced to her right, speared the ball and threw a bullet to edge Williams at second base.
The next batter hit a rocket between short and third. Again Hart dove to her right and smothered the ball.
Bountiful’s Latey said those were “two of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen at shortstop. I don’t think college girls could make those plays. (Payton’s) focus is so much higher than everyone else’s. She made those plays even with a cut hand.”
The Braves weren’t the only ones flashing the leather. In the third inning, Bountiful’s Landi Hawker drove a ball deep into the gap in left center. Clearfield center-fielder Lexy Horning motored to her right and made a leaping catch to rob Hawker of extra bases.
“My heart was pumping, but I took the right angle. I’m confident that I can go for the catch because Karley (Clearfield’s left fielder) will back me up,” Horning said following her heroics.
Clearfield (9-5 Region 6) finishes the regular season Thursday at home against Highland. Then it’s on to the state playoffs. “We had just one win my sophomore year,” said Karley Williams. “Starting last year, we have turned things around. It’s awesome to be a part of a team headed to state.”
Bountiful (20-1, 14-0 Region Six), winner of 14 straight, faces arch rival Woods Cross Thursday.
David Pearce is general counsel with Beneficial Life Insurance Co.