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4A softball: Birthday homer sends East to historic win

Published May 16, 2014 9:33 pm

Prep softball • Leopards beat Timpanogos 5-2 in 4A game for program's first state tourney win.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Birthday girl Aloma Solovi had a gift for her East High teammates Tuesday.

The freshman shortstop turned an eye-high fastball into a two-run home run to give the Leopards their first-ever softball playoff victory — 5-2 against visiting Timpanogos in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.

"I knew it was gone," said Solovi, who turned 15 Tuesday. "I just wanted to hit it hard, and it was up."

The home run highlighted a five-run sixth inning after the Leopards (23-4) were held to just three hits through five innings. The Region 6 co-champs, who outscored their final five regular-season opponents 84-9, didn't panic as the outs piled up.

"We just stayed focused and stayed loose," said East coach Marianne Bullis. "Kept our intensity. We never gave up. Played nice and loose and relaxed."

East advanced to play Maple Mountain in Thursday's second round.

The Leopards sent 10 batters to the plate against Timberwolves reliever Addie Gillespie in the game-deciding inning. Laina Suesue scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit in half, then Solovi sent a pitch over the fence in center field to flip the scoreboard.

Alexis Moeaki doubled and scored on Tiffany Hoogestraat's single, and Cerina Aragon reached on an infield single and scored on Aliyah Franco's single before the damage was done.

East sophomore Michelle Thomas (13-2) allowed single runs in the second and third innings, but settled down against the aggressive Timpanogos (16-13) hitters.

"She stayed calm on the mound and stuck with her game plan," Bullis said of Thomas, who gave up just one of Timpanogos' six hits after the third inning. "She did a great job on the mound for us today."

The coach said the historic nature of Tuesday's victory isn't lost on her young team.

"We're really proud of it," she said. "It happens to be our 100th year at East, and to take a share of the region title and now get our first win in the state tournament, it feels good. We feel like we're getting better every game." —

Class 5A softball

First round

Tuesday

• Copper Hills 3, West 2

• Riverton 5, Syracuse 0

• Layton 9, Lone Peak 0

• Alta 8, Hunter 4

• Lehi 9, Fremont 5

• Taylorsville 11, W. Jordan 3

• Bingham 11, Granger 1

• Herriman 5, Viewmont 4

Winners' bracket quarterfinals

Thursday

All games at 4 p.m.

• Copper Hills at Riverton

• Alta at Layton

• Lehi at Taylorsville

• Herriman at Bingham

Class 4A softball

First round

Tuesday

• Olympus 9, Bountiful 6

• Spanish Fork 11, Roy 1

• Maple Mtn. 1, Box Elder 0

• East 5, Timpanogos 2

• Bonneville 4, Springville 3

• Clearfield 12, Orem 2

• Woods Cross 11, Murray 3

• Salem Hills 11, Mtn. Crest 0

Winners' bracket quarterfinals

Thursday

All games at 4 p.m.

• Olympus at Spanish Fork

• Maple Mountain at East

• Bonneville at Clearfield

• Woods Cross at Salem Hills —

Storylines

R East earns the first playoff win in school history.

• Leopards freshman shortstop Aloma Solovi hits a two-run home run on her 15th birthday to erase a 2-1 deficit in a five-run sixth inning.

• East has outscored its past six opponents 89-11.