KAYSVILLE — In most Region 1 sports, Clearfield High is the punching bag, the team that coaches can bank on a win against.
Not the Falcons’ softball team, though. With a 7-5 win at Davis on Tuesday, Clearfield clinched at least a share of the Region 1 championship, its first region title since 2014 and its third in school history.
The Falcons have had good teams in recent years, including last year before COVID-19 wiped out the season, that haven’t gotten over the hill.
Tuesday they did, and the seldom-opened trophy cabinets at Clearfield High (14-3, 11-2 Region 1) will have a new addition.
“I think it’ll be kind of nice and I think it gives Clearfield more of like, instead of that bad sports rap, it gives us a little bit of a notch up,” senior third baseman Kaycee Valencia said.
An RBI double by Valencia started Clearfield’s scoring in the first inning. Rachael Brown drove Valencia home on the next at-bat for a 2-0, first-inning lead.
Valencia reached first base on an error later in the game, but that brought home Miranda Mansfield for a 7-5 lead in the sixth inning, which was enough insurance for pitcher Jayci Finch to close things out.
Finch, the Falcons’ mainstay pitcher for three seasons now, allowed two earned runs and struck out eight batters in a complete game.
Clearfield led 6-2 until Davis catcher Ellie Anderson blasted a high pitch for a two-run, opposite-field homer to cut the lead to 6-4.
A series of errors followed and the Darts came back to within 6-5. After Valencia’s grounder made it 7-5, she made two really good defensive plays at third base as part of a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the sixth.
First, she correctly read that Emily Dent was trying to hit a chopper up the third-base side, so Valencia fielded the ball halfway down the base path and made an easy throw to first for the out.
Larkyn Robinson hit a hard ball right to Valencia’s feet on the next at-bat, but that was calmly dealt with. This was all done with a pulled left quadricep, which Valencia said she reaggravated on Friday.
But against Davis, Valencia said Clearfield started well and then benefited from some good leadership midway through the game.
“One of our captains, Miranda Mansfield, she takes really good control of noticing everybody’s attitudes and analyzing stuff like that,” Valencia said. “It was the sixth inning, I think, and we were about to go hit and she goes, ‘Everybody needs to get up and stay positive, we’re starting to really get into each other instead of pumping each other up.’”
Winning Region 1 was never going to be easy this year thanks to the region’s overall competitiveness, and even against the bottom teams in the region, Clearfield had to grind and manufacture runs.
Only three of the Falcons’ region wins this year have been by more than 10 runs. There’s still a question remaining about whether it’ll be the only Region 1 team that does so.
The Falcons host Fremont on Thursday and the Silverwolves are 10-3 in the region, meaning they too can win a share of the region title should they beat Clearfield.