St. George • As the adage goes, to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
The Manti softball team claimed the Class 2A title, taking down reigning champion San Juan 5-2 in a heated battle Saturday in St. George.
“We’ve been dreaming about this since the beginning of the year. It’s really great to be taking it,” said Manti pitcher Kali Thomson.
Thomson dominated on both sides of the ball, her winning bid helped by two early runs in the first.
But San Juan’s freshman pitcher Tatianna Su’e Su’e knotted things up in the bottom of the third with a two-run dinger over left center.
That didn’t trouble Thomson.
The Templar starter shut down five straight after being taken deep. And in the top of the sixth, Thomson one-upped Su’e Su’e.
“Before I came up, I was thinking about the bases loaded and me being up. I wanted to be the one to hit it over,” said Thomson.
Thomson came to the plate with two on base and one out. Her shot just stayed fair and gave the Templars all the runs they would need to get the championship.
“I had to go for it,” said Thomson. “It looked like it was about to go foul. I was trying to scream it over. It was a big moment.”
Following Thomson’s home-run heroics, Manti head coach Susan Hatch opted to move Lizzy Palmer from third base to the mound in order to close out the game.
“We felt like we needed that change,” said Hatch about the decision to pull her defensive specialist from third. “It throws batters off …”
Palmer made big play after big play at the hot corner and didn’t let up in the circle. She struck out three and did not surrender a hit.
A pop fly ended the game, and a sea of red covered the diamond.
The Broncos came from behind multiple times in the playoffs, but they were unable to muster one last comeback.
Manti 5, San Juan 2
R Manti pitcher Kali Thomson dominates on both sides of the ball.
• Lizzy Palmer follows up shutdown defensive effort with hitless pitching performance in closer role.
• San Juan’s freshman pitcher Tatianna Su’e Su’e pitched in two games Saturday, and had a strong showing in the tournament.