ST. GEORGE – Friday afternoon, Cedar’s Lady Reds left no doubt who has the best softball team in southern Utah. Cedar defeated Desert Hills on the Thunder’s own field in a mercy-rule shortened game and earned the Region 9 championship.
Snow Canyon also won convincingly to prevent any tie at the third spot. That means Region 9 seedings won’t have to be decided by any coin flip or extra game. The Lady Reds combined their offensive firepower with outstanding pitching to hold the Lady Thunder at bay. All three games Friday were decided by 10 runs, though at varying points in the game. Below are summaries of the action:
Cedar City 10, Desert Hills 0 (F/6)
In the bottom of the third, Desert Hills saw its best opportunity to put runs on the aboard. The Lady Thunder had the bases loaded with nobody out. But an infield fly, a grounder to the pitcher and then a runner interference call got Holyoak out of the jam.
“It was not her (Holyoak) fault the bases were loaded,” said Cedar head coach Chris Weaver. “We had a couple of errors that put some runners aboard. That is the difference between Brighton this year and last year. Last year, she would have caved to the pressure and let it affect her. This year, her maturity has showed and she continues to pitch well.”
“We cannot let those opportunities slip by,” said Desert Hills head coach Kaycee McArthur. “We had a couple of other innings in addition with runners at second and third. We stranded way too many. We have to score runs to win the game.”
In the top of the fourth, Cedar got two of its first four batters on base with singles by Pua Johnson and Denim Henkel. St. Clair got Holyoak to hit a deep fly ball that was mishandled by the fielder. The miscue scored the first two runs of the game. A third scored on a double from Japrix Weaver.
In the fifth, the Lady Reds again got two of their first four batters aboard. Dream Weaver singled to left field and Sage Oldroyd was hit by pitch. Three consecutive singles would add four more runs to the Cedar total. Henkel, Amanda Cardon and Holyoak each got hits to the outfield.
In the sixth, Dream Weaver singled in a run and then scored on Johnson’s two run home run over the left field fence.
“She threw me an inside pitch,” said Johnson. “Those are my favorite. I knew right when it came off my bat that it was over the fence.”
More importantly, it gave the Lady Reds the needed advantage to end the game early via the 10-run mercy rule if they held Desert Hills in the bottom of the inning.
Holyoak retired three out of four batters without giving up a run to end the game.
“St. Clair is a very good pitcher,” said Coach Weaver. “But Brighton Holyoak is the best pitcher in region this year.”
Holyoak also split the game honors with Johnson garnering two RBIs and had this to say about facing St. Clair: “She is really good at getting ahead in the count and then making you chase pitches out of the zone. The best pitch you are going to see from her is usually the first one.”
Both teams will now represent Region 9 in the playoffs. Cedar will host its first round pod. The probable opponent for the Lady Reds will be Carbon, the No. 4 seed from Region 12. Cedar defeated the Lady Dinos at the March Elite Warm-Up 8-2 earlier this year. Game time is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13.
Desert Hills will travel to Grantsville, the No. 1-seed from Region 10. The Thunder will face the No. 3 seed from Region 12, North Sanpete. The Thunder beat North Sanpete earlier this season 9-0 in the Payson Ice Breaker in early April. Game time is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13.
Snow Canyon 10, Hurricane 0
The Lady Warriors scored two in the first on Preslee Gates’ inside-the-park home run. After a scoreless second inning, Snow Canyon put up one run in each of the next three innings. Gates got her third RBI of the game on a sac fly in the third. In the fourth, Alex Deming doubled in a run. In the fifth, Natalie Gunn’s single to center field put the Lady Warriors up 5-0.
In the sixth inning, Gates got another RBI with her second extra-base hit, a double to left field. She then scored when Taylor Gunn hit the ball to the same spot. In the seventh, Snow Canyon got three more — two on passed balls and a third on a fielding error to get to the final tally.
The Lady Warriors collected 15 hits with Megan Rodgers, Gates, Abby Maynard, Camryn Johnson, Courtney Averett and Deming all hitting safely multiple times.
“We have gone flat at the wrong time,” said Hurricane head coach Ryan Smith. “We have had some injuries that have affected morale. We have to find our scrappy this week.”
“Payten threw lights out,” said Snow Canyon head coach Tracee Heaton. “We had 15 hits and played great defense. The girls stepped up, knowing that this was a big game. I’m really proud of the effort they put into this game and hopefully it gives us some momentum going into the state tournament.”
Both teams’ seasons continue. The Lady Warriors finished third in Region 9. They will travel to Bear River where they will face Juan Diego. Game time is scheduled for noon on Saturday, May 13.
Hurricane will travel to Juab where they will play the host team. The Lady Tigers are seeded fourth.
Pine View 10, Dixie 0 (F/5)
Meanwhile offensively, Pine View got on the board early and often. The Panthers scored three runs in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the inning, Panther third baseman Brit Nielson made a spectacular defensive play to keep the Flyers scoreless. She dove and caught a bunt that had popped up, then threw from her knees to double up the runner at first base.
Pine View scored three more in the second. Two of the runs came on a single from Kyierra Grinnell. The Lady Panthers would get two more in the third and fourth innings to get to the mercy rule requirement.
Hannah James, Leachel Barlow, Sydney Mcarthur all recorded multiple hits. Kaitlin Roundy and Eden Stone each hit a double.
Both teams completed their seasons with this matchup.
FINAL REGION 9 SOFTBALL STANDINGS
1. CEDAR 10-0 (16-7-1)
2. DESERT HILLS 8-2 (23-3-1)
3. SNOW CANYON 5-5 (12-12)
4. HURRICANE 4-6 (6-8-2)
5. PINE VIEW 2-8 (8-15)
6. DIXIE 1-9 (5-23)
Click here for current 3A Class Regional Standings
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