BRIGHAM CITY — A team riding a 16-game winning streak should have tons of confidence.
But it wasn’t always like that for the Region 5 champion Bees.
“We didn’t have any confidence before the Mountain Crest game,” said Box Elder sophomore catcher Molly Horne. “After that game, we jelled and came together. The team chemistry started working.”
The Mustangs beat the Bees 8-2 on March 22 in Hyrum, but since then, Box Elder has not lost.
“I really believe we can take state,” said the 16-year-old Horne. “When we play to our potential, we’re awesome. It was a goal to win state, but not something we really talked about early on. We were focusing on winning region.”
Horne homered for the first time in a Bees’ uniform, and Box Elder scored six second-inning runs Thursday in a 7-3 championship-bracket victory over Region 8 co-champion Salem Hills in the state 4-A playoffs.
The Bees (23-2 overall) tangle with Region 7 champion Murray — the 2011 5-A runner-up — on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in the round of four undefeated teams at Taylorsville’s Valley Complex.
Horne led off the fifth inning with a solo shot over the left-field fence.
“I’ll probably do something special with the ball; write on it or do a ritual,” she said. “I’ve been working on hitting the ball harder, and today it paid off. I thought it would be over the left-fielder’s head, but I had no idea it would be out.”
Horne went 2-for-3 — she also reached base on a fielder’s choice — with three RBIs, including a two-run single in a six-run second. Box Elder had six hits in the second inning and the Skyhawks committed two errors.
Alexis Parker drilled a two-out, two-run double to left-center field in the first inning for Salem Hills.
“We got a little rattled, but we realized we could come back and pull it out,” Horne said. “We can always come back, numbers one through nine in our lineup. We’ve always been that way. The Mountain Crest game was a shot in the arm and opened our eyes to what we can do.
“The team needs each other. We have awesome players on our team and we need everybody to do it,” she said. “We’re young, but we’re tough. We all play (softball) 10 months of the year. When it’s bad weather, we find some place to practice in. Rain or snow doesn’t keep us from doing what we do.”
Bees right-handers Baylee Reeves and Abbey Martin combined on a six-hitter with one walk and four strikeouts.
Martin, a sophomore, retired nine consecutive batters after replacing Reeves to start the fifth inning.
“Our pitchers are awesome and they are just so competitive,” Horne said. “They each have speed, but are total opposites as pitchers. Baylee is more of a power pitcher who can throw the ball by people.
“Abbey has good off-speed pitches and tricks people,” she said. “I just choose what I say to them and know what they need to succeed. Our defense is amazing and we’re a good all-around team. Defense wins championships and it’s hard to beat a team that doesn’t give up runs.”
Karly Bunderson was 3-for-4 — she also reached base on an error — with an RBI and a run. Morgan McCormick, Venessa Quintero and Myranda Hernandez each had a run-scoring single for Box Elder.
“It would be so special for this team to win it for Morgan, who is our only senior,” Horne said. “We have 31⁄2-hour practices every day and we don’t quit until we get it right.”
• Roy 4, Maple Mountain 3: At Spanish Fork, the defending 5-A champion Royals took a 3-0 third-inning lead.
Caylie Phelts ripped a triple and Jordynn Barrera doubled for Roy (21-6), which plays Bountiful in Tuesday’s championship bracket at the Valley Complex.
• Mountain Crest 9, Clearfield 6: At Clearfield, freshman Bailey Douglas went 3-for-5 with an RBI; Baylee Patterson was 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run; and freshman Lexi Anderson went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run for the Falcons (15-12), who were eliminated from the playoffs.
• Bonneville 6, Springville 1: At Washington Terrace’s CD Field, the Lakers scored six unanswered runs spanning the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to remain alive in the one-loss bracket.
Abby Toller homered for Bonneville (13-10).
• Weber 2, Riverton 1: At Pleasant View’s Earl Heninger Field, junior right-hander McKenna Bull tossed a three-hitter with a career-high tying 17 strikeouts and no walks.
Hannah Charlton and Nicole Weiss drilled back-to-back seventh-inning doubles with Weiss getting the game-winning RBI.
Taylor Stroud went 2-for-3 with a solo home run for the Region 1 champion Warriors (24-2), who tangle with Copper Hills in Tuesday’s championship bracket at Taylorsville’s Valley Complex.
• Bingham 7, Davis 0: At South Jordan, the Darts (14-8) had just four hits in dropping into the one-loss bracket.
• Taylorsville 2, Layton 1: At Taylorsville, the Lancers (12-12) had seven hits but didn’t score after the second inning in falling into the one-loss bracket.
• Fremont 14, Lehi 6: At Lehi, the Silver Wolves (14-15) remained alive in the one-loss bracket.
• Bear River 4, Canyon View 0: At Taylorsville’s Valley Complex, the three-time defending Region 11 champion Bears won their third straight — each by shutout — in a rematch of last year’s state 3-A championship game with the Falcons.
Junior right-hander Jordan Theurer allowed six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Aleisha Taylor went 3-for-3 and scored a run. Erin Fox was 2-for-3 with an RBI double and Theurer had a two-run single and was hit by a pitch for four-time defending 3-A champion Bear River (23-4).
The Bears play defending state 4-A champion Spanish Fork today at noon.