5A softball: Copper Hills blasts Bingham on 20 hits
Taylorsville • The Copper Hills softball team left no doubt about its offensive prowess Wednesday.
The Grizzlies plowed over Bingham 15-0 by pounding 20 hits to earn a spot in the Class 5A state championship game.
"We were just on fire," said Grizzlies first baseman Riley Cleverly, who had two hits and five RBIs. "Every ball that was pitched, we ripped it back up."
It was only a 1-0 game when Copper Hills started the third inning by putting Skylar Cook and Ashley Clayton on base. Emilee Sweet, who finished 5 for 5 at the plate, singled to left to score Cook.
Cleverly sent a ball the opposite way to deep left to make the score 4-0.
"I usually struggle with the outside pitch," Cleverly said. "It was just a fastball that wasn't really moving."
The Grizzlies pushed across another run in the third on a single by Paige Watts, then got three more in the fourth to open an 8-0 advantage. The game was all but decided when Copper Hills scored a single run in the sixth before tallying six more on seven hits in the top of the seventh.
The victory gives Copper Hills (23-8) an obvious advantage entering the final day of the season. The Grizzlies need only one win in the double-elimination tourney Thursday to sew up the 5A state title. Bingham and Lehi, which will square off at 2:30 p.m., will need three victories in one day to snatch away the state title.
Copper Hills also beat Bingham in the winners bracket final last season but ended up losing twice on championship day to Weber to be denied the crown.
"I have talked to them about 600 times about where our focus needs to be," Copper Hills coach Jentry Jo Johnson said. "No guarantees. I was actually nervous coming into this game because Bingham is an excellent team."
Bingham (24-5) had only one hit off Grizzlies pitcher Payten Davies in the first four innings while Copper Hills was building its eight-run advantage.
"The next pitch is what we're focused on," Bingham coach Mikki Jackson said. "We can't control what happened five minutes or an hour ago. We can only control what happens next."
The Bingham vs. Lehi game is a rematch of Region 4 rivals. The teams split two games earlier this season. Lehi survived to play another day by eliminating another region foe, Riverton, on Wednesday then beating Davis later in the afternoon.
"Anything can happen here," Lehi coach Whitney Thomas said. "That was a big victory against a good team [Riverton]. Bingham is the same kind of quality team, so I think we'll be right there with them."
At Valley Softball Complex
5 p.m. • Copper Hills vs. winner of 2:30 p.m. game
Losers bracket final
2:30 p.m. • Lehi vs. Bingham
*If Copper Hills loses the 5 p.m. game, a winner-take-all title game would take place 15 minutes after the conclusion of the game.
At Utah Valley University
11 a.m. • Bingham vs. Riverton
1:30 p.m. • Layton vs. loser of Bingham-Riverton
At Rio Tinto Stadium
4:30 p.m. • Bingham vs. Lehi