HYRUM — There was no late rally this time, but fans were certainly on the edge of their seats once again as Mountain Crest and Ridgeline battled right down to the last out.
Each game this season has been decided by a run as the Mustangs edged the Riverhawks on Friday, 2-1. In the first meeting, Mountain Crest rallied and then held on for a 8-7 victory.
“Playing Ridgeline, you know they are going to find a way to put the ball in play,” MC coach Courtnee Maughan said. “Once again, we relied on our tough defense. We made some phenomenal plays today.”
Clinging to a 2-1 lead heading to the top of the seventh inning, Ridgeline (16-10, 5-5 Region 12) certainly made it interesting. With one out, Markessa Jensen pinch hit and ripped a double inside the right field line, bringing the top of the order to the plate. After a fly out, Brooklyn Anderson smacked a single to left to put runners on the corners.
Tia Washington fouled off a couple and then got a hold of a pitch and sent a rocket line drive to right field. Mustang right fielder Maddi White charged, leaned forward on the run and caught the ball just before it met the grass for the third out, preventing the game being tied or perhaps even the Riverhawks taking the lead. It was just one of several defensive gems by Mountain Crest (15-7, 8-2) on Friday.
“Maddi White in right field, to me, makes the play of the game,” Ridgeline coach Mike Anderson said. “Tia hit that ball as hard as you can. Maddi attacked that, kept her composure and went right at it. She did what seniors do, make plays. She did awesome.”
White kept on running toward the dugout and was greeted by her teammates and the Mustang coaching staff.
“We’ve had really good defense lately,” said MC’s Madison Bertagnolli, who made a spectacular catch of her own earlier in the game. “... We are strong on defense. We have Haylee (Brown) pitching, and she knows we will back her up.”
Mountain Crest scored both of its runs in the second. Brown led off the frame with a hard hit ball that looked like it might go over the fence in center field, but may have got held up by a stiff wind. Ridgeline center fielder Tyler Thornton tried to make a catch, but the ball hit the fence for a double.
“Tyler almost pulled that one in and could have been our spectacular play,” Anderson said. “She did enough to keep it on the field. They (Mustangs) made a few plays that pushed them through defensively, and that was the difference in the game.”
A sacrifice bunt by Maysen Bryson moved speed-up runner Havyn Brown to third. Brooklyn Clark blooped a single to left, but Havyn Brown was held at third. After a pop-up for the second out, Havyn Brown scored on a passed ball. A ground ball turned into the only error of the game by either side, allowing Clark to score and give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.
The Mustangs stranded two in the third and got a lead-off double from Clark in the fourth, but could muster no more runs.
“Tia (Washington) did a good job keeping us off-balance,” Maughan said. “We had a hard time hitting the ball hard. ... We have been hitting the ball well, so I’m not worried.”
The Riverhawks left knowing they had their chances. They stranded eight runners for the game and outhit the Mustangs 9-5. Washington struck out nine Mustangs and didn’t issue a walk.
“We are evolving and starting to get better, so I’m OK with it,” coach Anderson said. “... I thought Tia pitched a great game and kept them off-balance. I thought we hit the ball good. The problem is we just didn’t string enough hits together.”
Mountain Crest made big defensive plays to get out of jams. In the third, Ridgeline had two on base with one out. A ground ball back to pitcher Brown turned into a fielder’s choice out at third. Brown then proceeded to strike out the next Riverhawk.
With the bases loaded and just one out in the fourth, Elizabeth Mons hit an RBI single to left, scoring Laci Leishman, who had doubled. Mountain Crest left fielder Ana Tidrow fielded the ball and threw home to get the second out and prevent Ridgeline from scoring two runs.
The Riverhawks led off the fifth with a single by Thornton, but a fly ball and two popups to Mustang catcher Lindzee Steinmetz ended that threat.
Brown needed just five pitches to get out of the sixth inning, which was highlighted by a running and diving catch by second baseman Bertagnolli in foul territory.
“It’s a good thing I’m fast, so I can cover a lot of ground,” Bertagnolli said. “I’ve been playing back more, so I can get a better jump.”
Both teams will play non-region games early next week before starting the state tournament next Saturday.
GRIZZLIES 16, WOLVES 1
Twelve runs in the first inning was more than enough for Logan to finish off region play on the right foot at home.
The Grizzlies (14-9-2, 5-5) took advantage of a rough start by Green Canyon (3-19, 1-9). Logan drew nine walks in the bottom of the first, had two batters get hit by pitchers and the Wolves committed two errors. The Grizzlies sent 18 batters to the plate in the first inning, with Joci Norris getting the biggest hit with a three-run homer on a 3-2 count.
Pershelle Rohrer got the start, and Nya Laing came in for the final two innings. They combined to throw a one-hitter and struck a combined five Wolves out in the four-inning game.
Logan had just seven hits for the game, but it was more than enough. Norris and Molly Balling each had two hits apiece. Norris scored three times and had three RBIs, while Balling had four RBIs. Cheyenne Weekes scored twice and had two RBIs.
BEARS 13, BOBCATS 0
Sky View had to take on the top team in the region at Garland, and it wasn’t pretty.
The Bears (16-10, 9-0) finished with 19 hits in four innings of hitting, including six of the extra-base kind. Olivia Taylor had a triple and a home run for the hosts.
The Bobcats (4-16-1, 1-8) had four hits on the day, including a double by Mikellie Sorensen and triple from starting pitcher Mackenzie Schnell. However, Sky View could not push a run across.
The Bobcats and Bears meet again next week to wrap-up the region season in Smithfield.
Facing a must-win game, the Indians did just that in a district tournament play-in contest at Twin Falls, Idaho. Then they got to face the top-seeded host.
Preston dispatched of Century, 11-1, in six innings. However, Twin Falls blasted Preston in its second outing of the day, 16-1, in three innings.
“We hit the ball extremely well in the first game and came out and put a whole well-played game together,” Preston coach Larry Morrison said. “We played like we wanted to win the game. All the girls played a great game.”
Preston had 14 hits as a team. Sayge Keller went 4 for 4 with four runs, while Ashlynn Sparks was 3 for 3 with two runs and four RBIs. Keri Despain and Joci Alder each had two hits. Charly Bair got the win in the circle, striking out three and no walking a batter.
With the win, the Indians had to turn around and take on the Bruins, who went 18-0 this season in district play. Twin Falls scored 12 runs on 11 hits in the first frame and never looked back.
Preston was limited to four hits.
“They (Bruins) came out and just had a hitting day at the plate,” Morrison said. “One of those days where they didn’t miss a beat and hit very well today. All I can say is they were a great hitting team. ... We are still alive in the tournament, though. We will try to take the backdoor to make it to state.”
Preston takes on Burley Monday and must win to stay alive in the district tourney.