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West Valley » It was a perfect moment for a hero Wednesday night: Bottom of the seventh inning, with the winning run on second.
Most would prefer someone with a little more experience than Copper Hills’ freshman Emilee Sweet at the plate. But coach Gentry Johnson saw something in Sweet’s eyes — a glint, maybe — that told her everything was going her way.
Class 5A softball championshipsThursday, at Valley Softball Complex
One-loss bracket semifinal » Weber vs. Bingham, 2:45 p.m.
Championship game » Copper Hills vs. one-loss bracket winner, 5 p.m.
"She’s rock solid," Johnson said. "She had two strikes against her, but I could tell from her demeanor that she was ready."
The third baseman the Grizzlies call "Sweetness" delivered a walk-off single against Bingham that gave Copper Hills its first-ever berth in the Class 5A title game at Valley Complex, with a 5-4 win.
It was validation for a Grizzlies team that had been perennially abused by the power Miners teams of past years. Copper Hills had to face Bingham’s star ace, Paige Reimann, and showed no fear. And a freshman led them there.
"It means a lot to us — we’ve never been here before," Sweet said. "To actually beat [Bingham] feels great."
Going into the bottom of the inning, Copper Hills actually appeared on the verge of collapse. The Grizzlies led throughout the contest, grabbing a 3-0 lead and holding on with the pitching of Shelby Abetya and some sublime difference. Some Bingham baserunning miscues also played a part.
But by the top of the seventh, the Miners flushed their offensive woes. Kaitlin Latu hit in two runs that gave Bingham a 4-3 lead.
When Amanda Cook came up with a runner on in the bottom of the inning, Johnson had a conference with her senior.
"I said, ‘We need you, captain. We need you to get this done, senior,’ " Johnson said.
Cook slammed a game-tying double and ended up scoring the winning run.
For the game, Copper Hills hung up eight hits on Reimann, who had an off night with a tight strike zone. The offensive output gave the Grizzlies an advantage headed into Thursday’s final — either Weber or Bingham will have to beat them twice to get a state title.
That leaves the door wide open for Copper Hills to claim its first.
"I’m super excited," Sweet said. "As a freshman playing varsity, it’s definitely a new experience for me. I can’t wait to play."
Weber 6, Riverton 0 » Nicole Weiss homered and doubled for the Warriors, as McKenna Bull notched the win to play Bingham in the one-loss bracket semifinal.
Riverton 14, Taylorsville 4 » Kyrae Kogaines knocked two over the fence for the Silverwolves, who loaded up with 13 hits on the Warriors.
Weber 8, Davis 1 » Hali Bennion hit a home run to lead an explosive Warriors offense, and McKenna Bull and Haylee Chugg dominated with pitching.
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