High School Softball State Championship Tournament 05

Bountiful's Annie Salazar (8) pitches the ball in the third inning against West on Thursday, May 30, 2019, at Valley Regional Park in Taylorsville during the 5A softball championship round.

TAYLORSVILLE — An eye-opening display of power hitting and shutdown pitching turned Bountiful High’s state softball championship into another nightmare.

Last year it was Box Elder that beat Bountiful twice in the final round to deny the Braves a state title.

This year it was West High, which stormed back from the one-loss bracket and beat the Braves 12-2 and 17-4 on Thursday to win the 5A softball state title at Valley Regional Park.

Bountiful started the second game well enough after West methodically picked the Braves apart in the first game.

Daisy Taloa’s two-run homer in the third made it 2-0 for West. The fourth inning was when things went off the rails for good.

The Panthers hit four home runs in the fourth and scored nine runs, pushing the lead to 3-0, then 4-0, then 7-0, then 11-0.

It was in stark contrast to the Braves’ tournament so far, which featured wins of 11-1, 5-2, 8-1 and 12-2.

“Well, the best team won. It’s as simple as that. When you hit that many bombs, I mean, we threw five pitchers and every one of them gave up a home run. What are you going to do? It’s tough to beat that,” Bountiful head coach Butch Latey said.

The Braves missed a couple chances early in the second game when they had two runners on base. Both times resulted in zero runs.

At the time it was critical because the score was still 0-0 and 2-0. Lost in the home run derby was the performance of West’s pitcher Mikayla Ulibarri, who pitched all three games Thursday and shut down two very good lineups in Bountiful and Roy.

“It seemed like she would be off speed and then she would gas it. It was a rise ball and we didn’t touch it,” Latey said.

Abby Steed knocked in a three-run homer in the fourth, cutting the score to 11-3. Cheyenne Su’esu’e’s two-run homer in the fifth invoked the run rule for West.

Incredibly, the Panthers weren’t done hitting balls over the fence yet.

Huntyr Ava’s two-run bomb and Keisha White’s solo shot in the fifth capped the scoring.

Sophia Stoddard homered in the bottom half to give Bountiful one last time to celebrate.

In the first game, things fell apart for the Braves in the second inning when the Panthers turned a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 lead.

Ava hit a two-run homer to left field to make it 7-1. Ava’s two-run single made it 10-1 and the Panthers added their final two runs in the seventh.

Bountiful could only offer RBI singles by Stoddard and Shambre Maestas as resistance.

If there’s any good news for the Braves, it’s that optimism springs eternal. Just two of their starters were seniors, so ostensibly the bulk of their lineup returns next year.

The games closed the book on the high school sports season in Utah a week later than originally scheduled, hence the plethora of club softball teams that showed up during the game that were lining up and getting ready to play.

WEST 6, ROY 1

After a 2-1 upset win in the quarterfinals Wednesday, the second go-round against West didn’t end as well as the first for Roy.

The Royals faced a 2-0 deficit before they batted after the Panthers scored two runs on a bunt.

Then, West’s Huntyr Ava hit a solo home run that landed just in front of the slowpitch softball fence, which is approximately 120 feet (at the left field corner) behind the cheap mesh outfield fence that’s set up for high school softball at Valley Regional Park.

Roy didn’t have a baserunner the first three innings but, eventually, the Royals started getting opportunities. They cached in on some and others went begging.

Ana Palmer’s RBI single cut the West lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning and the Panthers responded in kind with two runs in the fifth.

Roy had two runners on with no out in the fifth and the next three batters went down in order.

Pitcher Maysa Averett struck out several batters and eventually, at times, recaptured the rhythm she had against the same West team in Wednesday’s win.

It was far too late. West got the final 6-1 margin with a solo homer late in the game, advancing to the title round against Bountiful.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

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