Brandon Gurney, Deseret News
Lehi High's girls softball team honored coach Carla Grow's memory during Tuesday's 5-4 win over Springville.
Our theme this is year is, 'Grow strong, grow fearless and grow together. —Lehi coach Tim Kennedy

LEHI — Lehi began the defense of its state championship in good form Tuesday, narrowly beating Springville 5-4. Senior pitcher Sydney White led the way notching 11 strikeouts in the complete game win and added the game-winning home run.

But for the Pioneers, their home opener was all about the memory of Carla Grow.

Grow was tragically struck by lightning last September and passed away three days later. She had served as an assistant coach to the Lehi softball team since 2013 and played a big part in helping build the Pioneers' new softball field.

"She was here every night until dark," Lehi coach Tim Kennedy said to the crowd prior to Tuesday's first pitch. "She'd turn on the headlights in her car to work well into the evening. So we appreciate her and miss her a lot."

As the players took the field they did so with a team motto honoring Grow's memory.

"Our theme this is year is, 'Grow strong, grow fearless and grow together,'" Kennedy explained. "We're playing for her."

As for the game, the Pioneers took a quick 2-0 lead after the first inning. Emme Cluff knocked in the first run with an RBI single while the second run was scored on a wild pitch.

Lehi then doubled its lead in the second inning before things got interesting in the top of the third.

With the bases loaded and not outs, Springville's Kaycie Jensen sent a fly-ball to deep center field that bounced off the fielder's mitt and over the center-field wall to tie things at 4-4.

White then took back the lead in the bottom of the fourth by sending a solo home run over the left-field fence for what proved the game-winning run.

White then secured the win from the circle, pitching a complete game without an earned run going against her. It was the type of performance Kennedy has come to expect given White's great play during last season's championship run.

"She's money," Kennedy said of White's performance.

Lehi now sets out on the road and won't return home for a while, which made Tuesday's quality start to the season just what the team needed, according to Kennedy.

"We're going out of town tomorrow to play in a tournament in Arizona, so we wanted to get in a couple of games," Kennedy said. "It was a good day for us."


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney