Cedar survives scare from Snow Canyon to remain unbeaten in Region 9 softball

Cedar High shortstop Dream Weaver tags out Snow Canyon's Sydney McCaul, Cedar City, Utah, April 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Region 9-leading Cedar High softball team faced a tough test from visiting Snow Canyon Wednesday, but the Lady Reds broke open a tie game in the bottom of the sixth and went on to win 7-3.

Snow Canyon pitcher Payten Jensen allowed just two hits and four total base runners during the first five innings, walking two and striking out five batters during that stretch. The two hits she allowed were both home runs, though, and the score was tied 3-3 at the end of five innings.

Snow Canyon pitcher Payten Jensen fires a pitch against Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, April 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“She’s tough. She’s a competitor. She’s probably thrown the hardest that we’ve faced this year,” Cedar head coach Chris Weaver said of Jensen.

Snow Canyon scored first in the top of the first inning, as leadoff batter Alex Deming, who’d walked to start the game, ended up scoring on teammate Courtney Averett’s single to right field. Megan Rogers then followed with a single to left, loading up the bases with one out. But Cedar pitcher Bryton Holyoak made it safely out of the jam by striking out Sydney McCaul, after which McKenna Staheli grounded out to short to end the inning with Snow Canyon up 1-0.

In the bottom of the first, Cedar saw two of its first three batters strike out. In between them, senior Dream Weaver hit a home run to left that was just inside the foul line, tying the score at 1-1. Cedar’s next batter, Pua Johnson, grounded out to second.

Snow Canyon’s Kambrie Stewart started off the second inning with a screaming line drive over shortstop, but Dream Weaver leaped up and snagged it for the first out. Jael Wilde then singled to center. After Deming struck out, Wilde was thrown out while trying to steal second.

Cedar also drew a blank in the second inning, with only Amanda Cardon reaching first base on a walk.

Cedar’s Dream Weaver is congratulated by her father and coach Chris Weaver after hitting a home run, Cedar City, Utah, April 18, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

In the top of the third, Snow Canyon right fielder Marley Moala hit a solo home run down the left field line, hitting in almost the same spot Weaver’s had landed. A couple batters later, Rogers knocked a single to center, after which McCaul hit a long fly ball to center that Cedar’s Denim Henkel caught with a diving catch to end the inning.

“Cedar made a couple of great plays on defense that kept us from scoring,” said Snow Canyon head coach Tracee Heaton. “We definitely left too many on base. We just needed a couple of timely hits and some luck, but just couldn’t quite get it.”

Cedar’s first two batters in the bottom of the third grounded out to the infield, but Dream Weaver then walked on a full count, after fouling off multiple pitches. Henkel then hit a two-run home run over the center field fence, putting Cedar back on top, 3-2.

In the top of the fourth, Stewart reached base on a hit-by-pitch, eventually scoring on a sacrifice grounder to the pitcher by Deming.

With the score tied 3-3, Jensen retired the side in both the fourth and fifth innings. Cedar had two strikeouts, three grounders to second, and a fly out to short during those empty frames.

Cedar High center fielder Denim Henkel leaps up to prevent a ball hit by Snow Canyon’s Alex Deming from clearing the fence for a home run in the seventh inning. Deming got a double on the play, Cedar City, Utah, April 18, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Jennifer Weaver, St. George News / Cedar City News

McCaul started off the top of the sixth on a promising note with a single to center field that Henkel misplayed, allowing the ball to roll to the fence. McCaul advanced to second easily, but when she started to try for third, Henkel retrieved the ball and fired it immediately to shortstop Weaver, who tagged McCaul out about 10 feet past second base. Snow Canyon’s next two batters also got out, with Staheli grounding out to the pitcher and Stewart flying out to center.

Dream Weaver, Cedar’s first batter in the bottom of the sixth, broke the tie with a towering solo shot that cleared the center field scoreboard. Henkel then flew out, but Johnson, Kylie Oldroyd and Cardon all followed with singles. Sage Oldroyd flew out to shallow center for the second out, but Shaun Bauman then drilled a single to center, scoring two more insurance runs and giving Cedar a 7-3 lead.

“That was a huge single up the middle by Shaun Bauman to give us two more runs there at the end,” coach Weaver said.

In the top of the seventh, Snow Canyon nearly had another home run, as Deming almost hit it over the fence in right-center, but Henkel managed to jump up and keep the ball from clearing the fence, holding Deming to a double. The Warriors got another runner on when Moala walked, but Holyoak managed to strike out Tyler Mooring on three straight pitches to end the game.

“Payten threw really well and we hit well,” said coach Heaton. “It just didn’t go our way this time.”

Holyoak went the distance for Cedar and picked up the pitching victory. She scattered nine hits, struck out five and walked two.

Cedar (now 8-0 in region play) next faces Desert Hills (7-1 in region) at Cedar Thursday afternoon in a showdown between the top two teams in the region. Snow Canyon’s next region game is also against Desert Hills, on Apr. 24 at Desert Hills.

Region 9 standings (region, overall)

  1. Cedar 8-0, 14-5
  2. Desert Hills  7-1, 16-3
  3. Snow Canyon 6-3, 12-7
  4. Canyon View 3-3, 3-6
  5. Hurricane  2-5, 9-5
  6. Pine View  1-6, 6-11
  7. Dixie  0-8, 1-15

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