HYRUM — It was a workman like day for the Mustangs in a first-round 4A state softball playoff game.
Mountain Crest came out and did what it wanted to in the opening game of the best-of-three series — win. The Mustangs got timely hits, made plays in the field and did not commit an error in a 4-2 victory against Desert Hills on Friday.
“We came in just wanting to focus on one pitch at time,” Mustang pitcher Braelynn Anderson said. “I was really focusing on throwing first-pitch strikes and just hitting my spots as much as I could.”
Mountain Crest (13-14) will now try and punch its ticket to bracket play next week in St. George where the state title will be won. The Mustangs and Thunder (11-18) play Game 2 at 11 a.m. Saturday. A third “if necessary” game will be held right after should the Mustangs falter.
“We just talked to the girls about picking up right where we left off today,” MC head coach Courtnee Maughan said. “We want to play a complete seven-inning ball game, one pitch at a time. They (Thunder) will come in with a chip on their shoulder, so we know they are going to be a little hot tomorrow, and we are going to pick up where we left off.”
Anderson certainly helped her cause Friday. The sophomore was batting in the No. 9 spot and had two of the Mustangs six hits Friday.
“I just go up to the box telling myself I’m going to get a base hit every time,” Anderson said. “And I usually come up with one.”
Desert Hills also had six hits, three came from Mavanee Schmid. The Thunder had one error and stranded seven base runners. Several times Mountain Crest got out of jams.
The Mustangs struck first with a run in the bottom of the first. With one out, Emma Chlld drew a base on balls, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Teagan Hall brought Child home on an RBI infield single. The Thunder got out of the inning with a double play.
“We took the advantage when the opportunity was given to us,” Maughan said. “I was super proud of the bottom of our lineup to pull through for us.”
Desert Hills took its lone lead of the game in the top of the second. With a runner on, Schmid took the first pitch she saw and deposited it over the fence for a two-run blast.
Mountain Crest did not flinch. The Mustangs responded with two runs in the bottom of the second to go back in front, 3-2.
Kennedy Peapealalo and Aspen Leishman earned bases on balls. With two outs, Anderson ripped a two-run single to right field.
Anderson needed just 12 pitches to get out of the third inning. She only needed eight in the sixth. Anderson finished with two strikeouts and two walks.
“She executed very well today,” Maughan said of Anderson. “We had great defense behind her today for sure. She threw some pitches for pop ups when we needed them.”
“My screw and curve ball were good today,” Anderson said. “I know I can throw it over the plate and miss my spots once in a while because of the defense behind me.”
Mountain Crest added an insurance run in the fourth. Autumn White blasted the first pitch she saw to lead off the inning with a home run over the center field fence. Singles by Nataly Bitterman and Anderson forced a pitching change by the Thunder, who was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
“Autumn has been working her tail off and found one over the fence,” Maughan said. “She has hit a lot of hard balls lately, but right at people.”
Still, the Mustangs played tough defense behind Anderson. Shortstop Leishman made several big stops to throw runners out from her knees, as did second baseman Child, and White made several nice running catches in right field.
“Our defense was on fire today,” Maughan said. “Emma (Child) and Aspen (Leishman) up the middle, nothing was getting through there. Autumn had some great catches today in right field.”
Gabby Pedry led off the fifth with a double, but was left there. Mountain Crest stranded six base runners for the game.
OTHER STATE GAMES
It was not so good for the rest of Region 11 Friday. Sky View lost to Cedar, 9-7. Green Canyon was beat in five innings by Dixie, 10-0. Logan lasted just three innings against Snow Canyon in a 19-1 setback. Each will get a chance to bounce back Saturday.
At Smithfield, the Bobcats (13-15) jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning and took a 6-4 advantage into the sixth inning. The Reds (12-13) scored three times in the sixth and added two more in the seventh to steal one from the hosts.
“It was a pretty good game,” SV head coach Amanda Robinson said. “... Cedar played well. They got a couple of timely hits and scored a couple of runs.”
Sky View actually outhit Cedar, 13-13, and had two less errors than the visitors. But it wasn’t enough.
Morgan Hernandez had a monster day at the plate for Sky View with three hits, scored three times and had three RBIs. She was just a home run shy of the cycle as she had a double and triple.
Cambria Davis, Preslie Jensen, Carlee Watterson and Rylee Beckstead each had two hits for the Bobcats. Davis scored twice, and Watterson had two RBIs. With pitching ace Tawnee Lundahl nursing an injury — she did bat Friday — Skylee Haramoto threw 6.1 innings, allowing 11 hits and striking out four. Davis finished the game, striking out two.
“As a team, we played great defense today,” Robinson said. “We have moved some players around, and they really stepped up to the challenge. We had good at bats all the way up and down the line up.”
At St. George, the Wolves (14-14) fell behind early to the Flyers (14-12). Dixie scored four runs in the first and two more in the third. The hosts added four more in the fourth.
“We just couldn’t get the bats going,” GC head coach Daisy Karren said.
The Wolves had just two hits, singles by Ana Miles and Kylie Olson. Rylee Ericson did draw two bases on balls. Green Canyon, who committed four errors, stranded five base runners in the game.
The Flyers had two home runs and three doubles, finishing with 11 hits.
Logan (3-21) also played in St. George. Snow Canyon (20-7) put up 13 runs in the first inning and finished with 21 hits. The Warriors hit four home runs and had five doubles.
Airiona Vasquez had two of the Grizzlies three hits, including a double. Dulce Romero also had a double for Logan. Kat Leto walked and scored the lone Grizzly run.