TAYLORSVILLE — Less than 24 hours after hurling a magnificent six-hit, 11-strikeout shutout against defending 4A champion Salem Hills Tuesday evening, Bonneville ace Andy Hancock picked up right where she left off in the Lakers' 4A winners bracket final against Spanish Fork Wednesday night.
Hancock pitched a masterful five-hit, complete-game victory while giving up just one run, Abby Toller and Kajay Niebrugge drove in two of the Lakers’ three runs, and Bonneville earned a spot in Thursday’s 4A state championship game with a narrow 3-1 victory over the Spanish Fork Dons at the Valley Complex.
In her last 14 innings of work, Hancock (21-2) has given up just one run and 11 hits while fanning 13 batters and leading her team to an appearance in the 4A state championship.
“I think her (Hancock) performances speaks for how much she means to this team,” Bonneville coach Brenda Hart said. “She’s crucial; she’s awesome. She’s got the heart and so does the rest of the team.”
The Lakers have now won 17 of their last 18 contests — including five straight — and will look to keep their hot streak going on the final day of the season. The 4A title is set to get underway Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Valley Complex.
“It’s our defense. At the beginning of the season, we talked about how our defense is going to win games for us, and our defense has really pulled through for us,” Hart said. “We are solid and we’re doing really well. We have got to play solid defense to win games.”
Bonneville (25-3, 10-2) jumped out to a hot start and hit the Dons in the mouth, taking an early 2-0 edge after the first two innings of play.
Spanish Fork (25-5, 11-1) was able to cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third when junior second baseman Kaylee Bott singled to right field to bring home junior catcher Whitney Perkins.
That’s about as much action as Hancock and the Lakers’ stingy defense allowed, however, as the Dons stranded seven runners on base and just couldn't capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
Niebrugge went on to bring home one more insurance run with two outs in the top of the sixth inning to help the Lakers open up a 3-1 lead before Hancock quickly retired the side in the sixth and seventh innings, giving up just one hit to ensure the victory.
“(The win) lessens the pressure for us slightly, but we still have it there,” Hart said. “We have just got to come in, take care of business, and play the game.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sportswriter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724