I was way disappointed (in the hit) because I wanted to get the run in, but I did what I had to. I saw that she was going for me, and I went underneath it. —Bingham's Karly Wightman
TAYLORSVILLE — If her own desire wasn’t heavy enough, Karly Wightman walked to the batter’s box carrying the hopes of all her teammates as their season hung in the balance.
“I’m obviously feeling pressure,” she said of her game-winning at-bat as Bingham beat Syracuse 5-4 in the 6A quarterfinals at Valley Softball Complex. “Two outs, bases loaded, and I need to get that run in to tie it to go into extra innings. I was thinking just a base hit, for sure. Anything to get that run in.”
What she delivered was just enough.
The senior’s hit was as unimpressive as they come.
Wightman hit an easily fielded grounder to the first-base side of the pitcher’s circle, but then, instead of throwing it to first, Syracuse pitcher Ashtyn Bauerle tried to chase Wightman down.
“I was way disappointed (in the hit) because I wanted to get the run in, but I did what I had to,” she said, as her team celebrated around her. “I saw that she was going for me, and I went underneath it.”
Wightman did what every player is coached to do from the time they step onto a diamond — run out every hit. It is a habit, however, that is easier espoused than embraced.
Without hesitation, she sprinted, as did her teammate Jaydan Jensen, who’d been waiting on third base for an opportunity to try to score the game-tying run. Jessica Jensen, who stood on second as a pinch runner for Nicole Wall, crossed the plate before the defense had a chance to realize what happened. In an effort to evade the tag, Wightman dove to first base, Bauerle dove to tag her. The tag missed, and Wightman was safe and the game was over.
“I thought (Bauerle) was going to flip it,” said Bingham head coach Mikki Jackson. “I thought the game was going to be over. And when she went after her, and then she went down, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! She missed her!’”
Jackson shook her head as she thought about what the Miners had to overcome in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Bingham scored first and held onto the lead the entire game, with the only run scored coming from a home run in the fifth inning by catcher Ashlee Schriever. Trailing 3-1, the Titans took the lead when Schriever hit a three-run home run in the top of the seventh.
Bingham pitcher Nicole Wall struck out the next three batters to bring Bingham to bat, trailing 3 to 4.
“That’s hard when they score that late in the game,” Jackson said of the mental toughness it took for her team to battle back from giving up a three-run home run at the top of the inning.
Wightman said the team huddled together, even as Schriever and her teammates were rounding the bases.
“It was definitely discouraging, but we work on this thing called ABCs,” Wightman said. “Act Big, Breathe Big and Commit Big. After that home run, we did our ABCs in the huddle and got the three outs we needed.”
Syracuse’s defense earned the first out, and then Jensen managed a single. Wall got on base on an error, but then the next batter struck out. Hanna Reid loaded the bases with a single, which brought Wightman to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
The pressure is something Jackson said coaches address all season long.
“We try to teach them to thrive on it, not fear it,” Jackson said. “You play for that moment.”
Jackson joked that Wightman’s speed came from her preseason willingness to chase down a bus for the team after a long day of missed buses in San Francisco.
“I told her, ‘I might have to put you in that leadoff position with that speed I’m seeing out of you,'” Jackson said laughing.
But in all seriousness, Jackson said the mental toughness her team exhibited was impressive.
“This group just has a confidence in itself,” she said. “I could tell even after that home run, it was being tested. Then to get that first runner on, then the next one, and then there was a point where they were feeling like they could do it. That’s a gutsy performance right there.”
The win means Bingham will play the winner of the Herriman-Layton game, which was suspended in the top of the sixth inning with Herriman leading Layton 10-6.