Cedar skunks Thunder as dominating season begins to take shape

Cedar High first baseman Pua Johnson throws to first after fielding a sacrifice bunt by Chelsea Pierce of Desert Hills in the Lady Reds' 8-0 win over the Thunder, March 27, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Cedar High Lady Reds traveled down the mountain for a big game against Desert Hills Tuesday, but it was all downhill for the Thunder.

Cedar’s Dream Weaver gets the force out at second base, but her throw to first wasn’t in time to complete the double play. However, Desert Hills’ Quincy Staheli was called for interfering with the throw, resulting in an automatic out at first, March 27, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

The game had the makings of an early-season clash of Region 9 titans: defending champion Cedar, undefeated last year and winner of its first two region games this season, taking on the Thunder, also 2-0 in region, as well as 9-1 in a preseason filled with gaudy wins.

Instead, Desert Hills made a series of small mistakes that took their toll while the Lady Reds were nearly perfect in all aspects of their game to take home a 8-0 victory.

Asked afterward whether it was a statement game, Cedar coach Chris Weaver said, “No, not yet.”

He said his team fielded well and added, “Our pitching’s coming along and we swing the bat pretty good. By the end of the year, our lineup will be as good as anybody’s.”

Pitcher Bryton Holyoak, the reigning region co-MVP, gave up five hits and struck out four on the way to the shutout win. Holyoak was undefeated in region last year and thus far this season.

Two Lady Reds had three hits each: Abby Anderson, who had two runs batted in, and Denim Henkel, who drove had one. All six of their hits were singles. Allie Meisner had a pair of doubles and two RBI.

Desert Hills third baseman Addi Betts throws to first to get a Cedar runner in the top of the seventh inning, March 27, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

The game started out as though it might become a potential barnburner. Neither team scored in the first, although Desert Hills got a leadoff single from pitcher Brianna St. Clair. She was sacrificed to second and took third on a groundout, but was stranded there when Tori Hinton was retired on a fly ball just short of the warning track in centerfield.

Cedar eked out a run in the top of the second when Pua Johnson led off with a single to right-center, but tweeked a muscle. Pinchrunner Kelsi Oldroyd stole second, took third on an errant throw by the catcher and scored when the centerfielder couldn’t field the overthrow cleanly.

The play was an example of what Desert Hills coach KaCee McArthur said cost her team throughout the game.

“We had some mistakes. We’d get some momentum and get rolling and make some little mistakes, maybe not a big mistake but at the right time it turns into something that hurts your momentum. We gave them a few unearned runs, which never helps.”

Lady Reds pitcher Bryton Holyoak gave up five hits and struck out four on the way to a shutout win over Desert Hills, March 27, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo by Michael Rinker, St. George News

In the top of the third, the Lady Reds began to distance themselves from the Thunder.

Meisner lead off with a double to center, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a double to left by Dream Weaver, the other reigning region co-MVP. Weaver took third when another pitch got by the catcher then scored on a sacrifice fly by Johnson to make the score 3-0.

Cedar doubled its lead in the top of the fourth. Amanda Cardon drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second. Anderson singled to center, sending Cardon to third and taking second on the throw home. Meisner followed with a two-run double to right-center. One out later, she scored on Henkel’s single to center.

The Lady Reds picked up their final runs in the top of the seventh on a two-run single by Anderson.

Desert Hills squandered scoring opportunities in both the fourth and fifth innings.

Addi Betts and Hinton led off the fourth with singles, but one out later Savannah Wright hit a ground ball to shortstop Weaver, who stepped on second for the force out, but was unable to complete the double play. However, Wright was called out when the umpire ruled that Hinton had interfered with Weaver’s throw to first, which ended the inning.

The Thunder’s Morgynn Rosemeyer opened the fifth with a single to right but was forced out at second on Quincy Staheli’s ground ball to Weaver. Oakley Giacoletto reached on an error by the second baseman, which sent Staheli to third, but St. Clair lined out to Weaver who threw to first to double off Giacoletto.

“We couldn’t string hits together, we couldn’t move runners and when people were in scoring position we couldn’t score,” McArthur said. “Give [Cedar] credit, they hit really well and Dream at shortstop make some really nice plays … and on the opposite end, we didn’t.

“We had some learning moments. We’re trying to learn every game, trying to improve every game and Thursday we’ll be back trying to play better.”

Next up for Desert Hills is a game at Snow Canyon on March 29, while Cedar returns to action April 4 when it hosts Canyon View.

In other Region 9 games from Tuesday, Canyon View beat Pineview and Hurricane outslugged Dixie in extra innings.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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