TAYLORSVILLE -- With another baby on the way, Mandy Hodgson has had a gut full of runner-up finishes.
As a stellar Box Elder High School pitcher, she played on three second-place state 3-A and 4-A softball teams. Hodgson was later an assistant coach on Jim Fuller's staff that swept the 2001 4-A title.
Losing to Salem Hills for the third time spanning the last two years is a bitter pill for the Bees to swallow, with Thursday's 3-2 setback at the Valley Complex derailing Box Elder's aspirations of winning its first state 4-A title since 2006.
"We left too many on base and couldn't get a key hit," Hodgson said. "The girls will never forget the experience of being here on the final day of the big dance and having the opportunity to win a state championship."
The Skyhawks were the 2012 4-A runners-up -- losing to Roy 5-2 -- but they capped their first state championship season on a 15-game winning streak.
Sophomore Abbie Tuttle's fifth-inning leadoff home run over the center-field fence was the game-winner.
The Bees pulled within 3-2 in the sixth on Myranda Hernandez's RBI single that scored speed-up runner McKell Marble after Baylee Reeves' one-out single.
Box Elder had the potential go-ahead run at first base with one out in the seventh after Salem Hills' junior right-hander Kirtlyn Bohling pitched around Molly Horne, eventually walking her.
Kelsey Rodriguez flied out to right field and Reeves popped-up to shortstop for the game's final out.
The Bees had at least a base runner in every inning. They stranded nine, including three in scoring position.
"The girls came out here and gave everything they had. Every girl that played gave us a chance," Hodgson said. "They don't have anything to hang their heads about.
"Today wasn't their day, but they gave themselves the opportunity to win and that's all you can ask as a coach," she said.
Box Elder went with junior right-hander Abbey Martin, but pulled her after Tuttle's fifth-inning bomb, bringing in Reeves.
Martin allowed three runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Reeves, a senior right-hander who has signed with BYU-Hawaii, worked two innings -- giving up only one hit -- with a strikeout.
"I actually planned on pitching both pitchers to give them a different look," Hodgson said.
Sophomore Sadie Blacker went 3-for-4 with a double -- she also reached base on an error -- and scored a run.
Had the wind not been blowing in, Blacker would have pounded two dingers over the left-field fence.
"Sadie is what I call a 'gamer' because she makes a difference when she is in the game," Hodgson said.
Hernandez was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a sacrifice and Horne -- who walked twice -- had a first-inning sacrifice fly for the Bees (27-3 overall), who played an error-free game.
Bohling scattered seven hits with four strikeouts and two base on balls.
"The girls made adjustments during the game, but we just couldn't get the big hit when we needed to," Hodgson said.
* box elder 8, provo 3: Reeves and Martin combined on a five-hitter as the Bees eliminated the Region 8 runner-up Bulldogs.
Martin pitched three scoreless innings after Reeves gave up three fifth-inning runs without getting an out.
Horne, a Salt Lake Community College commit, went 3-for-4 with a triple despite her aching back.
"Honestly, I'm pretty bad," she said. "I wasn't going to play Tuesday (in the 6-2 loss to Salem Hills that dropped Box Elder into the one-loss bracket) because my back was so sore even after taking 5-6 days off.
"I was in tears before warm-ups and I told Mandy I didn't think I could play," the 17-year-old Horne said. "She told me I could do it and the team needed me. I took it one pitch at a time and went 3-for-3 (with two doubles).
"This is for the state championship. There is no way I'm going to miss this," she said. "I wince when I throw or hit or even pick up a ball.
"I don't know how I hurt my back -- it's a strained muscle or tendon in my lower left side -- but it's probably from overuse, catching two pitchers every day."
Leadoff batter Karly Bunderson was 2-for-4 with a RBI, a walk, two stolen bases and scored twice.
Blacker smacked a three-run, opposite-field bomb over the right-field fence; Reeves singled, walked and had an RBI fielder's choice; Venessa Quintero drilled a double with a run; and Hernandez had a two-run single -- she also reached base on an error and walked -- with a run for the Bees, who committed three errors.
"The intensity and craziness on our bench will get us two wins," Horne said. "We all wanted each other to succeed Wednesday (in 10-0 and 9-0 respective wins over Region 5 rivals Roy and Bonneville). We had a team meeting after the (Tuesday) loss to Salem Hills and everybody jumped in with both feet.
"Losing to them was like a smack in the face," she said. "We knew we couldn't win by just showing up. You have to have heart and talent to win. We're so talented, and heart is what will get you a state championship.
"Salem Hills is a good team, but we got into our heads too much and psyched ourselves out," Horne said. "When Provo scored three runs, we knew we had to get things done. We said 'no more,' just play a couple of more innings and get it done."
* COPPER HILLS EDGES RIVAL BINGHAM: The Grizzlies edged the Miners for the state 5-A championship.
Rashelle North picked up the win despite allowing 12 Bingham hits. Copper Hills scored a run in the first inning, then took the lead for good with three more in the fifth.
On Wednesday, Copper Hills dropped Bingham 15-0. Bingham then had to battle past Lehi early Thursday to get another shot at Copper Hills.
Paige Reimann earned the win in the first game. The Miners scored seven runs in the second inning, but needed them all as the Pioneers got within 7-6.