SPANISH FORK — They are not done yet.
The battle cry from the Ridgeline softball team has turned to “why not us,” and the Riverhawks are certainly proving they are not ready for the 2019 season to be over. Facing elimination three times Thursday, Ridgeline dug in and delivered at the 4A Softball State Championships.
Now the Riverhawks are into the semifinals.
“We just had energy and started building momentum and just got on a roll,” Ridgeline’s Tyler Thornton said. “We are really working together as a team, really well.”
The Riverhawks (21-12) finished the day with a thrilling 5-3 win over Cedar. Twice Ridgeline trailed, and each time responded.
“I could not be more proud of the girls, backs against the wall,” RHS head coach Mike Anderson said “... Final four and at this point, why not us? Why not us?”
Now Ridgeline faces Spanish Fork in the semifinals Friday at noon. The Dons beat Snow Canyon, 10-3, to stay alive. The winner will then play on Saturday morning, unless the schedule is changed because of the weather like it was Thursday.
The Riverhawks were in such a good mood after winning three, they jokingly asked to keep playing Thursday evening.
“We are on a momentum roll right now,” Ridgeline’s Aree Kidman said. “We came in with as good of a mindset as we could possibly have. We’re just building momentum from here on out and nothing is stopping us now. … We might as well keep playing. We are not going to stop.”
“We are just going one game at a time at this point,” Thornton said. “... We have had hard games in the region, so we have learned and built off that. At this point, it’s them or us.”
It was the Riverhawks for sure on Thursday.
Thornton led a eight-hit attack against Cedar. She was 3 for 3 and scored three times.
“I’m just getting back into the flow,” said Thornton, who missed part of the season with an injury. “I’ve been working hard, and these guys (pointing to teammates) make it possible. We push each other at practice.”
Trailing 3-2 after Cedar had hit a pair of solo home runs, Ridgeline plated three runs in the fifth. With the bases loaded, Thornton had a RBI single to right. Kidman followed with a two-run single to right.
“I just go after the first pitch I can get,” Kidman said. “If it is there, I’m going to take it. I’m not going to let a good pitch go by.”
With rain starting to fall again — there was a lightening delay and rain before these two even started to play — Riverhawk starter Tia Washington focused on the task at hand and got the job done in the circle, despite dealing with a wrist injury.
“Tia may have a broken wrist,” Anderson said. “The trainer tapped her up and it’s up to her on pain threshold. She pitched the entire game that way. That is heart.”
Before taking on the Redmen from Cedar, Ridgeline had to face region-rival Logan. The Riverhawks and Grizzlies (17-12-2) had split during the regular season. On Thursday, it was all Ridgeline in five innings, 11-1.
“They (Grizzlies) are a good team, classy program,” Anderson said. “Kim (Laing) has done a great job. Our kids came to play that game and what I love, we did not let our foot off the pedal. Every inning, we scored runs.”
Ridgeline had 12 hits as Brooklyn Anderson led the way with three base knocks. Laci Leishman and Izzy Telford had two hits each. Leishman came up with big ones, despite battling being sick.
“I was just trying to make contact because I had two strikes on me,” said Leishman, who had four RBIs. “Working on two-strike drill at practice and it has been working for me. I was just trying to get a hit and move my teammates around the best I could.”
Leishman started the scoring with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first.
“I didn’t feel it at all,” Leishman said of the homer. “It was pretty special to me.”
Leishman got a four-run third started with a two-run double.
“We doubt ourselves some times, but we have had a good week of practice and remember who we are,” Leishman said. “We came ready to win. We weren’t satisfied with where we were. We wanted to prove to other people, but mainly ourselves, that we are better than how we had been playing earlier in the season.”
Joci Norris had one of just two hits by the Grizzlies against Washington and the Riverhawks, but what a hit it was. It was a solo homer over the fence in right field.
But the Riverhawks didn’t flinch and roughed up both Pershelle Rohrer and Nya Laing, who was not 100 percent.
“She (Nya) has a heart condition and it acted up at the end of that first game (against Lehi), so that’s why we didn’t start her (against Ridgeline),” coach Kim Laing said. “I don’t think she was ever fully there. Once she has it, she is weak and lethargic. Pershelle (Rohrer) has pitched well for us lately. It’s just one of those things. Cheyenne (Weekes) sprained her ankle and couldn’t play, Nya is injured, but every team faces it.
“... Ridgeline played a good game and I’m happy for them. Obviously, it’s a tough loss. But I’m proud of the girls.”
The Riverhawks began the day with a 5-1 win against Corner Canyon. Washington struck out four and allowed five hits. Kidman and Elle Mons each had two hits.
“We came out strong,” Anderson said. “We are finally starting to reach who we are right now. I love that we are turning the corner.”
Logan began the day with a thrilling win over Lehi, 1-0. Norris provided the big hit with an RBI triple in the fifth inning, scoring Saige Hansen.
“I was just looking for a base hit because that’s all we really needed to get some runs in,” Norris said. “I really was hitting to get on. … I’ve been feeling good.”
The Grizzlies escaped several jams against the Pioneers, including the final inning. Lehi loaded the bags in the seventh with one out. Nya Laing struck out the next Pioneer. The next Lehi batter blooped one into shallow center field, but Norris was able to make the running catch to end the game and set up the match up with Ridgeline.
“It was scary,” Norris said. “We calmed down and took it one out at a time. All we needed was one more. It was fun. … I was not going to let that go over (running catch).”
“She came through for us, big,” coach Laing said of Norris. “I put her at the nine spot in the first game and told her she was going to get an RBI for us, and she did. Top to bottom, these girls are awesome and such good people. It has been a pleasure to coach them.”
Despite having its season come to an end, Logan made strides forward this season and won two games at state after finishing fourth in Region 12.
“Top eight is good and look at our region,” coach Laing said. “You always want to go further. ... I was proud of the girls, they played well.”