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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Bingham's Chelsea Latu tries to chase down Copper Hills runner Suzi Sullivan in a softball game on Thursday, April 3, 2014.
There were moments when she was challenged, and she showed that mental toughness to come back. —Bingham softball coach Mikki Jackson on pitcher Taylor Clemens

SOUTH JORDAN — Bingham softball coach Mikki Jackson knows a full season is a marathon — not a sprint.

Prior to their 11-6 region victory over Copper Hills Thursday night, the Miners (7-5) had previously dropped four of their last five games. Jackson, however, wasn’t ready to hit the panic button just yet.

“As we look at our win-loss record, that’s not a factor to us, because of things we’re learning,” Jackson said of her team’s preseason struggles. “Every week, we are just trying to get better. The wins and losses in preseason aren’t really a factor to us, because we are switching kids in and out and trying to figure out who we are going to be able to rely on.”

On Thursday, the Grizzlies (8-6) drew first blood in the top of the second inning when Emily Lyman, Paige Watts and Riley Cleverly all drove in runs to give the visitors an early 3-0 edge.

That’s when Bingham starting pitcher Taylor Clemens took the game over.

“We knew that she was going to be a big factor today, and I felt like she came out and had certain things on her mind and she was going to be as tough as she could,” said Jackson of her ace pitcher. “There were moments when she was challenged, and she showed that mental toughness to come back.”

Clemens got things going for the home team in the bottom of the second with a solo shot that soared over the center-field fence to trim the deficit to 2-1.

Clemens then came out and hurled three scoreless innings while surrendering only two hits to help the Miners find their stride.

The Miners rallied for 10 runs in the third and fourth innings, including seven runs in the fourth alone, to take a comfortable lead with just two innings remaining.

“I think we just really had to calm down, come out and do what we know how to do,” said Clemens.

Watts and Allyssa Garcia stepped up in the top of the sixth and smacked back-to-back home runs, while Copper Hills played small ball in the seventh to try to make a miraculous comeback. However, the deficit was just too much as the home team hung on for the 11-6 region victory.

“I was pleased to see the kids come out swinging like that,” Jackson said of the win. “We’ve got this picture in our minds week by week of what we’re trying to accomplish, and they definitely checked off a few things tonight with their sticks.

"And to come out and open up region play with a win against a quality team shows that there is a tenacity in these guys that we want to see all the time. It is really early in the season, but it’s exciting to think this is where we are and we still have a lot of weeks ahead of us to get better.”

Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sportswriter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.

Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724

EMAIL: rlove@deseretnews.com