State softball: Fremont, Bountiful survive 1-loss bracket; Weber, Bonneville eliminated
MILLCREEK — Fremont High’s softball team got the matchup it wanted on Tuesday in the 6A state tournament at Big Cottonwood Regional Park.
The No. 4 Silverwolves took on No. 1 Riverton in the final-eight bracket that essentially equates to a semifinal.
But like Weber a couple hours before it, Fremont ran into likely the best pitcher in the entire state: Riverton’s Kaysen Korth.
Korth, a Weber State signee, entered Tuesday with a 0.67 ERA in 115 1/3 innings with 238 strikeouts against 23 walks this year.
She continued her dominant run of form with 11 strikeouts and two hits allowed as Riverton beat Fremont 5-0.
Fremont mustered just two hits against its Silverwolves’ counterparts, who are the defending 6A state champions.
Audrey Cooper’s slow ground ball to the shortstop with two outs in the fifth inning broke up Korth’s perfect game. By that time, Riverton led 3-0.
“Obviously, we haven’t seen Riverton the last couple years and they have the biggest name in the state of Utah so I think we were a little gun-shy at first, a little bit timid and they started to realize (pitcher) Brinley Ellsworth is keeping us in this game,” Fremont coach Mandy Koford said. “She pitched a heck of a game and they started to get a little looser.”
Ellsworth pitched a complete game and allowed five runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
There was really just one big hit, a two-run homer in the sixth by Lilly Heitz to make it 5-0 for Riverton. Late in the game and with a lot of innings thrown already in the tournament, Ellsworth was running out of gas.
One of the reasons Fremont is still alive to play in the one-loss bracket again on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. against No. 5 Mountain Ridge is freshman Savannah Palmatier, who hit the game-winning, walk-off hit that saw Fremont beat Mountain Ridge 8-7 in eight innings earlier Tuesday.
Against the Sentinels, Fremont led 5-2 in the top of the seventh inning before a single, a ground-rule double and a two-run home run (all to left field) gave Mountain Ridge a 6-5 lead.
A fielding error in left field by Mountain Ridge in the bottom of the seventh, however, allowed Keysha McKean to score from first base and tie the game.
The Sentinels scored on an RBI single in the eighth to go up 7-6.
With two outs in the bottom half, though, Palmatier came up with the bases loaded, roped a single to right field and two runs scored for the walk-off win.
“Anyone who likes softball is going to like watching that game,” Koford said. “It was fun, it was a fight, could’ve gone either way. I’m just lucky that we were the home team and it went our way.”
Palmatier hit 2 for 5. Haddie Hadley and Brinley Johnson hit home runs, with Hadley hitting a two-run blast to make it a 5-2 Fremont lead in the sixth inning.
“It was key for Haddie Hadley to hit her first high school home run and then for Sav to get up in that kind of situation, you talk about the real deal and she is that. She’s an impressive ninth-grader and I’m thrilled as can be she was able to capitalize on that,” Koford said.
Hadley hit 3 for 3 with two walks and two stolen bases. Audrey Cooper hit a double and Reata O’Neal hit 2 for 4.
Brinley Ellsworth threw all eight innings and ended up with 14 strikeouts against two walks with six runs (five earned) allowed.
On the adjacent softball field, No. 10 Weber (17-12) saw its season end with a pair of losses to No. 1 Riverton in the main bracket and No. 5 Mountain Ridge in the one-loss bracket.
Weber lost to Riverton 12-0 and lost to Mountain Ridge 10-5 a week after sweeping both Corner Canyon and Farmington in earlier playoff series.
The Warriors were run out early by Riverton and only had two hits with two walks drawn.
Against Mountain Ridge in the one-loss game, Weber had chances.
Trailing 9-5 in top of the sixth, Weber had the bases loaded with two outs and grounded out to end the inning.
The Warriors did trail 5-0 early and came back with four runs in the third to get close. Allison Hughes had three RBIs, Kendall Strasburg hit 2 for 4 with two RBIs, a homer and pitched a complete game.
There’s considerable optimism that Weber will stick around at this level the next couple years. Strasburg is a sophomore and, along with leading the team as a pitcher, hit over .400.
Catcher Ellie Nielson, shortstop Olivia Boswell and outfielder Jaysie Barker are all sophomores. Third baseman Hadley Howell is a junior and so is outfielder Claire Bailey.
Of the two Region 5 teams in the final eight, one is still in the tournament’s one-loss bracket and the other is headed home.
No. 4 Bountiful will come back to Big Cottonwood Regional Park on Wednesday for a one-loss bracket game against Wasatch at 10:30 a.m.
The Redhawks fell 3-2 to No. 5 Wasatch in Tuesday’s first game. Eva Stoddard pitched a complete game with four hits and eight strikeouts, but it wasn’t enough against the Wasps.
Malissa Turpin had a hit and an RBI for Bountiful. Mylie Burns, Ella Miller and Athena Tongaonevai hit singles and Isabeau Hoff drove in one.
Bountiful (20-6-1) then beat No. 9 Timpanogos 10-4 in a one-loss game later Tuesday. Stoddard pitched another complete game, this time striking out nine with five walks and eight hits allowed.
Burns and Claire Yates hit 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Ella Miller homered and hit 2 for 4, Shiloh Johnson hit a triple and drove in one.
The winner of Wednesday’s Bountiful-Wasatch game takes on No. 1 Spanish Fork at 12:30 p.m. and would need to beat the Dons twice to advance to the 5A championship series.
The story was different for No. 2 Bonneville, which went 0-2 on Tuesday and ended its season with a 22-7 record.
Tuesday morning’s first game saw the Lakers lose a 1-0 heartbreaker to No. 7 Lehi.
Bonneville ace Emmaline DeGroot pitched a complete game and allowed five walks, four hits and one run. The lone run scored in the top of the seventh inning.
“I feel like the first game we did great. We didn’t hit the ball that well, but our defense was awesome,” Bonneville coach Shelby Healy said.
Leadoff hitter Stocktyn Stevenson had Bonneville’s only hit in the first game and two players drew walks. Tuesday was also Bonneville High’s graduation ceremony at the Dee Events Center.
Some of the softball team’s seniors had an on-field graduation ceremony, as is typical for the state softball tournament, and some of the team’s seniors went to the Dee and missed the first game.
“I feel like we fought hard in the first game and then felt kind of defeated (in the second game),” Healy said.
The Lakers lost their one-loss bracket game to Springville 10-1. Multiple errors in the first inning helped score three Red Devils runs.
Bonneville’s response came in the bottom half when Peighton Summers scored on a wild pitch.
DeGroot started and ended the Springville game, totaling 4 2/3 innings pitched with six runs, six hits and three walks allowed versus zero strikeouts.
“I know that (DeGroot) was really sore, she was really tight, but that kid is an animal,” Healy said. “She’s so mentally tough, she’s ready, she’s there for her team no matter what, she’s always ready to put herself out there. So I do think we were a little tired.”
It wasn’t the end of the season that Healy envisioned for the team, which was also three days removed from prevailing in a tough best-of-three series against No. 17 Payson that required coming back Saturday to finish what ended up being a 28-14 win in the third game.
A handful of starters this year were juniors (DeGroot, Stocktyn Stevenson, Brityn Buchanan and Peighton Summers) and they ranked high on the team in batting and, in DeGroot’s case, were crucial in pitching.
Justin Johnson contributed to this report.