4A state softball: Desert Hills swept in finals by dominant Ridgeline

Desert Hills players and coaches come together between innings during the 4A state softball finals vs. Ridgeline, Provo, Utah, May 18, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

PROVO — The Ridgeline Riverhawks proved to be unstoppable throughout the 4A state softball tournament, defeating Desert Hills twice in as many days to post a finals sweep and claim the championship.

Ridgeline pitcher Brielle Gardiner delivers a pitch Desert Hills in the 4A state softball finals, Provo, Utah, May 18, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Ridgeline shut out Region 9 champion Desert Hills 5-0 at Brigham Young University’s Gail Miller Field on Friday, after which the Riverhawks posted 8-2 victory over the Thunder on Saturday.

It marked Ridgeline’s second-ever state title in softball, with the other one coming in 2022. 

On Saturday, Ridgeline jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, just as they had done the preceding day. However, Desert Hills scored two runs in the third to tie the game 2-2. The Thunder’s first run came on a sacrifice fly by Payten Benson, which scored Riley Greene. Then, right before the next batter Jayla Ybright walked, Bailey Lee scored on a wild pitch.

The score stayed tied until the bottom of the fifth when Ridgeline’s Anne Wallace belted a two-run homer to put the Hawks back on top, 4-2. 

Desert Hills players and coaches come together between innings during the 4A state softball finals vs. Ridgeline, Provo, Utah, May 18, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Ridgeline then added four more insurance runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

In Friday’s contest, Ridgeline scored two runs in the first inning and added three more in the third on a three-run homer by shortstop Eliza Pond. That ended up being all the scoring the Hawks would need. 

Standout freshman pitcher Brielle Gardiner went the distance in both games for Ridgeline. On Friday, she gave up three hits while walking three and striking out eight. Saturday, she gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits while walking seven and striking out six.

Gardiner was virtually unstoppable for the Riverhawks this season, posting a 27-1 record while recording 246 strikeouts. 

With the back-to-back wins over Desert Hills, Ridgeline finished its season 30-1, with the only blemish coming on a 5-3 loss in a non-region home game against Spanish Fork on April 22.

Desert Hills, meanwhile, ended its season with a 25-6 overall record, including 12-0 in Region 9 play. This year marked the Thunder’s first-ever appearance in the state finals.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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