Contrasts help us see where we are in the world. They give us a reference point from which to adjust and for which to aim. In Tuesday's Region 8 softball game between Spanish Fork and Salem Hills, the contrasts were stark. The Dons were focused on defense and powerful on offense, while the Skyhawks were tentative in both areas as Spanish Fork defeated Salem Hills 7-0.
The first inning was a microcosm of a game which pitted two of the frontrunners in 4A softball against one another. In that inning, Spanish Fork was able to bring seven batters to the plate, continually putting pressure on the Skyhawk defense. And though they could only bring one batter across the plate in the inning, it was an indication of the offensive strength the Dons would muster continually throughout the game.
Salem Hills seemed able to match the threat, when Kirtlyn Bohling (9 Ks) struck out lead off batter, McKinley Brinkerhoff (2 RBI), for the Dons. However, two walks and a Kailey Bott single later, the Dons had bases loaded with one out.
Salem Hills picked up the second out of the inning when shortstop Abbie Tuttle gathered up a hard grounder by the Dons' Cheyenne Pratt and fired to home for the 6-2 force. But then, a routine grounder up the middle and indecision by the Skyhawks defense allowed a run to score on a Kelsie Christensen (11 Ks) fielders choice.
For her part, Christensen pitched a one hit shutout of the Skyhawks while fanning 11 Salem Hills batters by throwing a wide variety of pitches, leading the Dons' defensive efforts.
Spanish Fork's Bailey Thurgood led the offensive charge by going 4 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI. Thurgood got lots of help from her Don team mates as they accumulated eight hits with a home run from Brooke Davis and 2 RBI each from Bott and Brinkerhoff.
Thurgood said, "I trust my team; they keep me up. I constantly try to think about what I am doing that is good."
Her bat was better than good today.
As good as the Dons' hitting was, coach Don Andrews felt like there was a lot of room for improvement.
He said, "If we can put the ball in play more than our opponents, we will win. Our defense is very good, but our bats have tapered off since the beginning of the season. Maybe with this game, we can get back on track."
He went on to say, "This is a great win for us. Kelsey's pitching and Bailey's hitting were absolutely key for this win."
Christensen was helped by some terrific diving plays by second baseman Bott, including a diving catch of what seemed to be a sure single by Bohling. After the catch, Bott whirled and threw Alex Oveson out at first to finish the 6th inning.
Christensen was directly opposite Thurgood, saying, "I tried not to think at all. I trust my defense and try to keep the same intensity throughout the entire game."
Her focus led to a single hit for the Skyhawks by left fielder Annalee Castleberry, who led off the top of the fifth inning. Three Christensen strike-outs later, the Dons were back at the plate. Spanish Fork had only one inning they didn't have any runners on base. That was one of the big contrasts today.
Coach Renae Kinghorn recognized the Dons overall play today by saying, "They were just better than us today. We have a lot of things to work on. We're going back to the basics."
Troy Bohling can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.