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Janae Oveson
Salem Hills High School's Hannah Rogers slides home to end the game by the mercy rule against Roy in state playoff action on May 14.

Both the Royals of Roy and the Skyhawks of Salem Hills remember what happened last year as they faced off for the 2012 state championship. The memory of last year's 5-2 loss to the Royals motivated and focused the Skyhawks, who took a small portion of redemption as they defeated Roy in the first round of the 2013 State 4A Tournament, 10-0.

Salem Hills coach Renae Kinghorn said, "We were scheduled to play Roy at the beginning of the season in St. George, and I know the girls were really excited for that game. When it got rained out, they were pretty disappointed."

Kinghorn continued, "We are not in any position to look past anybody. Kirtlyn Bohling (19-3) needs to be on her game. If she is throwing like she can and our defense continues to make great plays for her, I believe we will win."

Kinghorn added, "Their senior shortstop, Jordynn Barrera (1 for 3) is a very good hitter, but I believe our team will take care of business and execute."

Though pitching and defense have been a mainstay for the Skyhawks, on Tuesday their bats awakened with a sense of purpose.

Salem Hills shook up the lineup just a little as Skyhawk center-fielder Tiffany Madsen hit for herself for the first time this year. Kinghorn was rewarded as Madsen went 3 for 4, providing a base runner on every appearance at the plate.

Kinghorn said she made the changes "because we have been in a team hitting slump. But I didn't want to mess up the defensive chemistry by taking out a player who was struggling, so we just let Tiffany hit for herself and DP'd for someone else."

Madsen said, "I found out last Friday that I would be hitting for myself. I was nervous the first at bat. After the second, I had confidence. Today was probably one of the top five athletics moments of my life."

Madsen was a key ingredient as the Skyhawks broke out of their slump with 10 hits for the game, including three doubles in the sixth by Kenzie Cowden (2 for 3, 1 RBI), Abbie Tuttle (1 for 2) , and Ashley Whiting (1 for 2).

For their part, the Royals could only manage two singles off of Bohling (11 K's) and the Skyhawk defense, which played error-free ball the whole game.

Bohling said, "Our defense is confident. We made no mistakes. Now, our bats have woken up — we will be an offensive and a defensive team."

But it was the Skyhawks' fifth inning that broke the game open.

After four and a half innings of play, the score stood at 2-0, Skyhawks. Salem Hills' Kenzie Martin led off with a single. Madsen beat out a bobbled grounder and Tuttle walked to load the bases, prompting the second pitching change of the day for the Royals.

That is when Bohling (1 for 2, HR, 4 RBIs) stepped to the plate and put the first pitch over the center-field fence for a grand slam, opening up a seemingly close game.

She said of her first home run of the season, "I made good contact and watched the center fielder track it. I knew by her body language that it was over."

From that point, the game was effectually over.

Kinghorn said, "I am proud of our team for playing with such maturity. At this point, I just have to stay out of their way."

Salem Hills moves on to play Murray at Salem Hills High School on Thursday, while the Royals face the Leopards of East in the one-loss bracket.

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 troy.bohling@nebo.edu.