SALT LAKE CITY — The West softball team continues its dominance.
The Panthers have reeled off seven straight victories, the latest coming on Thursday, as West defeated Salt Lake City rival East 11-1. The game was called due to the run-rule after the fifth inning.
"I thought it was great. We've got a lot of work to continue to work on, but we got the win and that's all that matters," West head coach Keith Lopati said.
Daisy Taloa was fantastic, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs in the Panthers' victory, while filling in at catcher.
"Performance was great, she's seeing the ball well. She also played a position that she hasn't played in a long time, so hats off to her, she did a great job," Lopati said. "It's just temporary, just so we can add a little bit more depth to that catcher's position, but she's doing real, real well so far."
West's Mikala Ulibarri pitched all five innings, allowing just five hits. East did score a run, but it was unearned. Ulibarri's best performance of the game came in the top of the fourth inning, when the Leopards loaded the bases with no outs, but Ulibarri navigated through it, and the Panthers escaped unscathed.
"I saw senior leadership from her, experience kicking in, not getting rattled, and just taking it one pitch at a time. We worked a lot on that and we executed it exactly what we practiced. We need to shore up some things still, but I was happy with how we played defensively," Lopati said.
West started the scoring with a Huntyr Ava RBI in the first inning. In the third inning, Kamora Masina hit an RBI single to make it 2-0, then Taloa followed that up with a 2-RBI single to increase the Panthers' lead to four.
West would break the game wide open in the fourth inning after Ulibarri maneuvered her way out of the bases-loaded jam in the top of the frame. Josie Vaenuku smacked a two-run home run to left field to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead. Then, Taloa collected her third and fourth RBIs of the contest on a two-run single that put West up 8-0.
Karime Garcia scored the unearned run in the top of the fifth inning for East off a Brooklyn Franco double, which would end up being the Leopards' only run of the game.Comment on this story
The Panthers scored three more in the bottom of the fifth frame to enact the run rule. A sacrifice bunt by Brooklyn Tapusoa brought home a run, then Tapusoa — pinch running — scored on an error. An RBI single by Ava made the score 11-1 and ended the game.
West is now settling into Region 6 play.
"I like our chances, only because of the girls that we have and how hard they work. They rise up to the level of competition that we play. It's fun to watch because this is what they do, this is what they love. We continue to work hard and we'll see what happens at the end," Lopati said.