Taylorsville • Moments before the 6A softball championship began, Herriman and Layton’s players engaged in a dance off. Layton got hyped with a synchronized line dance right after Herriman rapped along to its song of choice.
But while the Lancers arguably displayed superior dance chops, the Mustangs performed better on the diamond. And when a 6A title on the line, the latter is ultimately what mattered.
Herriman secured back-to-back 6A softball championships Thursday with a resounding 9-3 win over Layton at Norma Carr Field on Salt Lake City Community College’s Taylorsville campus. The Mustangs used a six-run third inning to break the game open and never looked back.
“When you’ve won one, it’s like you have this thing on your back like you have to win another one,” Herriman senior pitcher Libby Parkinson said. “Leave a legacy, not just one year.”
Parkinson hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning that started the scoring for Herriman, which trailed 1-0 up to that point. The senior, who said she got a scholarship to continue playing softball at SLCC, also held Layton to just one run until the bottom of the seventh inning.
Mustangs shortstop Taegan Smith singled, senior third baseman Syndee Hoffman walked and Shalee Jensen was hit by a pitch to load the bases with only one out in the bottom of the third. Catcher Allie Madsen’s sacrifice fly and Alexis Smith’s two-run single up the middle gave Herriman a four-run lead before another Mustangs player scored on a Layton error, making the score 6-1.
A run in the fourth and two in the sixth gave Herriman a 9-1 advantage. The Lancers put two more on the board in the bottom of the seventh, but their last gasp wasn’t enough.
In last season’s 6A title game, Herriman needed eight innings to beat Syracuse 6-5, and came back from an early three-run deficit to do it. This year, Mustangs coach Heidi McKissick said she somewhat liked that the game wasn’t a nail-biter.
“It made it kind of a little bit more that I could breathe,” McKissick said. “But it was great.”
With a large lead heading into the final half-inning, Parkinson said she realized it was her last high school game and she wanted to “leave it all out on the field.” She also said she took a moment to glance at Hoffman, Herriman’s other senior, and thought of all the games the two have been through in their run with the Mustangs.
The road to a second consecutive 6A championship did not come easy for Herriman, not only did rain delays and cancellations continually change times and venues throughout the tournament, but the Mustangs had to battle back from a 7-2 deficit to Copper Hills in the semifinals just to reach the title game. They blitzed the Grizzlies with an eight-run bottom of the sixth to qualify for the championship.