Class 4A softball: Salem Hills gets improbable title
Taylorsville • In 2013, Salem Hills went undefeated in the state softball tournament to capture the Class 4A championship. In other words, the Skyhawks needed to win only once on the tourney's last day to claim the title.
Salem Hills' road to the championship this year was slightly more complicated. But, in the end, the result was the same.
The Skyhawks came through the loser's bracket and won three times Thursday at the Valley Softball Complex, defeating Bonneville 8-2 in the finale to repeat as state champions.
"I actually think it's better than last year because we fought through the losers' bracket," Salem Hills coach Renae Kinghorn said. "It was tougher. We showed more guts, we showed more heart."
Pitcher Kirtlyn Bohling all but shut down Bonneville in the two championship games. She struck out six batters in the first game a 10-1 Salem Hills victory then fanned seven in the finale, which was her fifth game on the mound in two days.
"She's unstoppable," Kinghorn said. "I was asking, "Are you OK? Are you OK?" And she kind of brushed me off."
Bohling admitted she was a little tired at the beginning of the last game. Fortunately, she got plenty of help from her teammates.
"They played so tight, I didn't have to worry," Bohling said. "If [Bonneville] got a bat on the ball, they made a play on it."
The Skyhawks' bats also made Bohling's job easier. Amelia Weight doubled with one out in the second to spark a five-run inning that put the Lakers into a similar hole they faced in the first game.
Weight homered in the third inning to give the Skyhawks a 6-0 lead, and Bonneville, despite somewhat solid pitching from ace Andy Hancock (11 strikeouts over two games, and only two earned runs in the finale), were all but finished.
"Our motto has been 'first blood' we want to score first," Kinghorn said. "That gives us a lot of confidence; your pitchers play more loose."
Salem Hills had lost to Bonneville 1-0 on Tuesday, sending the Skyhawks to the losers' bracket. Then, they were trailing Maple Mountain 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh on Wednesday before erupting for 11 runs to advance to the losers' bracket final.
And in its first game Thursday, Salem Hills needed eight innings to edge Region 8 rival Spanish Fork 4-3.
"We came out with a little bit more confidence and more fire than we did on Tuesday," Kinghorn said. "That served us well.
"After we beat Spanish Fork, I think we were unstoppable."
Two games later, the only thing could stop the Skyhawks' impressive tournament was the last out of the game that gave the Salem Hills another championship.
"This group of girls is really special," Kinghorn said. "We are going to lose a lot of seniors. I'm a little bit sad about that. But it's a great way to go out."
Salem Hills 8, Bonneville 2
R Salem Hills comes through the losers' bracket, including three victories Thursday, to repeat as state champions.
• Kirtlyn Bohling throws six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and fanning six, and also homers to lead the Skyhawks to a 10-1 victory that forces a second championship game.
• Salem Hills defeats Spanish Fork, 4-3 in 8 innings, to advance out of the losers' bracket.