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David Pearce
Bountiful players meet near the pitching circle as Bountiful High School defeats Westlake High School in the first round of the UHSAA 4A softball playoffs.
I have been watching a lot of college softball on TV and I was so fired up today. I was ready to go. We needed a win, and I brought what I could. —Belle Stoddard, Bountiful softball

Bountiful used an eight-run fourth inning to bury Westlake, 14-1, in the first round of the state 4A tournament.

“We were good today, not great,” Braves assistant coach Russ Stoddard said following the win.

“We did a lot of things well today. We ran the bases well. We pitched well and played good defense. But we can be better,” Bountiful head coach Butch Latey added.

The Braves, who scored in every inning, were led offensively by Kristi DuBois. She finished with two hits, including a double to deep left field to key the fourth-inning offensive explosion. DuBois drove in two runs with the blast. Sydney Austin and Landi Hawker scored three times apiece to contribute to the effort.

Defensively for Bountiful, it was all Belle Stoddard. The Braves’ ace struck out 10 batters in five innings and scattered four hits to earn her 22nd win of the season.

“I have been watching a lot of college softball on TV and I was so fired up today,” Stoddard said. “I was ready to go. We needed a win, and I brought what I could.”

“(Stoddard) threw good, but she knows she can throw better,” coach Latey said of Stoddard’s performance.

Westlake threatened several times but was never able to produce a big inning. “We hit the ball well. We had some heads-up base running and some good catches. Now we just need to put it all together,” Thunder head coach Kim Jex said.

Center-fielder Felecia Romero was particularly effective for the Thunder, reaching base three times and smacking two singles. “(Stoddard) is a faster pitcher. I just focused on the ball in her hand. When I get two strikes, I focus more,” Romero said. “I had two strikes each time, so I was really focused,” she joked.

Sarah Petersen also added a hit for Westlake and scored its only run.

Despite the loss, Jex was pleased with Westlake’s progress. “We lost every starter from last year so we are rebuilding,” she said. “It was huge for us to make State. The experience is a big deal. We need to get over the excitement of just being here. We still want to win this year,” Jex added.

As the playoffs progress, Bountiful knows it needs to play better. “We lacked intensity at the beginning of the game. It seemed like we were all moving in slow motion,” Braves co-captain Caramae Fackrell said.

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Payton Hart, who drove in two Bountiful runners, agreed. “We didn’t come out as hard as we like. We didn’t jump on them like we can. We can get better.”

“Today’s game was a team effort, just like all season. Our JV team has pushed us all year. They have made us better. We are all one team, and those girls have worked so hard to make us better,” coach Stoddard said following the win.

With the win, Bountiful moves on in the winners’ bracket and faces Mountain Crest in the second round of the playoffs. Westlake looks to extend its season against Maple Mountain on Thursday.

David Pearce is general counsel with Beneficial Life Insurance Co.