The Grantsville softball team may have virtually its entire roster back from last year’s Class 3A state championship squad, but the Cowboys have work to do to get back there.
Grantsville wasn’t at its best Tuesday afternoon in its home opener, beating Cyprus 6-2 just three days after demolishing the Pirates 24-6 at the March Warm-Up Elite tournament in St. George. While the Cowboys (4-3) did enough to win, the game still left coach Heidi Taylor wanting more from her squad.
“We’re still kind of rusty in some areas,” Taylor said. “We need to make less errors and we need to make quicker adjustments at the plate. It’s only like the second or third week, so I expect those things to happen.”
Early in Tuesday’s contest, it looked like Grantsville was on track for another blowout victory. The Cowboys took a 1-0 lead on the Pirates (1-5) in the bottom of the first, as Maddison Peterson led off with a double and scored on Maizie Clark’s sacrifice fly to left. Grantsville added to its lead in the second, as Rylee Udom hit a leadoff double and Oaklee Collings drew a walk before Breana Hiatt blasted a three-run home run to put the Cowboys up 4-0.
However, Grantsville struggled offensively after that. Udom was stranded on second base after a one-out double in the third inning, while a single by Hiatt and a double by Maison White to lead off the fourth ended with both left stranded in scoring position as the Cowboys’ top three hitters were retired in order.
Cyprus cut into Grantsville’s lead with a two-out solo home run by Shay McDaniel off Cowboys starting pitcher August Cowan in the fifth, and the Pirates trailed just 4-2 after a Grantsville error allowed Grace Jenkins to score in the top of the sixth just after Cowan was replaced in the circle by Bailey Frischknecht.
“I do appreciate that it was close, because it shows them that they have to do more than show up,” Taylor said. “I don’t think it’s complacency. Some (of the girls) haven’t decided whether they’re a leader — ‘am I supposed to do what you do or am I supposed to lead, who’s giving direction.’ We kind of have people kind of standing back when I want them to step forward and kind of just take it. I know what they’re capable of — they’re the ones that I have to convince.”
Grantsville was able to stretch the lead back to four runs in the bottom of the sixth. Hiatt hit a leadoff single and came around to score on a double to left by Clark. Clark added the Cowboys’ sixth run when the Pirates mishandled Laura Sandberg’s base hit to left.
Both Hiatt and Udom finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate, with Hiatt driving in three runs and scoring two. Clark was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Cowan earned the win in the circle, allowing two runs — one earned — in 5 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Frischknecht didn’t allow a hit and struck out five of the six batters she faced in 1 2/3 innings of work.
McDaniel and Jaelin Holdaway each hit a double for Cyprus. Pirates pitcher Kenley Henson allowed five earned runs on 11 hits with a walk and a strikeout in six innings.
Grantsville will travel to Mount Pleasant on Friday for a showdown with North Sanpete, one of the top teams in Class 3A hoping to keep the Cowboys from a third consecutive state title. The game with the Hawks is part of a brutal non-region schedule that has already included wins over Pleasant Grove and Bear River, and will later feature road games against Spanish Fork, Tooele, Fremont, Bear River and Bonneville in addition to a home contest against Manti.
“We definitely always try to play the best teams in the state, 2A through 6A,” Taylor said. “We want to play the very best because that’s the only way to get better. As we get closer to state, it’s harder when your region isn’t Tooele, Stansbury and Bear River every game.”