We lucked out. You’ve got to have a little bit of luck to win games in this tournament — this late, anyway. —Bountiful head coach Warren Latey
TAYLORSVILLE — After defeating Box Elder in a nail-biting 5A semifinal game, the Bountiful Braves huddled together and yelled two words.
Now, the Braves will try, and they're just one win away from claiming their first state softball title in school history after defeating Box Elder 5-4 on Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s how we’ve played for four games in a row this year, and they’ve all been close, no more than three runs between us. It didn’t change today. They’ve got great hitters,” Bountiful head coach Warren Latey said.
Alyssa Bowles and Sophia Stoddard were phenomenal for Bountiful, with each player driving in two runs apiece. Stoddard went 2-for-3 from the plate, and her RBI single in the sixth inning proved to be the difference in the game.
“Today, yesterday, the game before that, I think she’s probably like 9-for-12, all pressure situations. Probably got 10, 12 RBIs, too,” Latey said.
After three scoreless innings, the game looked like it was shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel, but the Braves broke through in the fourth inning — scoring four of their five runs in the frame. An RBI double by McHailee Danner started off scoring, then an RBI groundout by Stoddard brought in the second run. A two-run homer to centerfield by Bowles put the Braves up by four.
“It was good. I think they all had a big sigh of relief after that happened," Latey said.
Box Elder would respond in the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run by Brylee Marziale, then the Bees really made the game interesting, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Nyah DeRyke got the scoring started with a solo home run, then a two-RBI double from Mallory Merrill brought Box Elder to within one run.
After a scoreless top of the seventh inning from Bountiful, an error placed Sydnie Blacker on first, then a passed ball and a wild pitch moved her to third, but the Braves were able to get two outs to send the team to the championship game.
“We lucked out. You’ve got to have a little bit of luck to win games in this tournament — this late, anyway,” Latey said.
Latey says that there is something special about this team.
“They love each other and they’ll do anything for each other. If you give them a bunt, they’ll put a bunt down, if you ask them to hit-and-run, they’ll hit-and-run. They just do what you want them to do. Nobody’s for themselves, they’re all for the whole team,” Latey said.
Now, the Braves are one win away from doing something no team before them has done.
Bountiful will face the winner of Box Elder and West at 3 p.m. on Thursday. If the Braves win, they take the championship, and if they lose, it will come to a winner-take-all final championship game.
To take home the state championship tomorrow, the Braves are going to have to turn in a good offensive performance one more time.
“I think we’re going to have to hit,” Latey said.