It was the right strategy — just not the outcome the Grantsville softball team was hoping for.
With two outs and the score tied in the top of the eighth inning of Friday’s nonregion home game against Class 4A powerhouse Spanish Fork, Grantsville coach Heidi Taylor made the call to walk Jordin Bate to load the bases, seeing as how Bate, the state’s second-leading home run hitter, had already gone deep twice in the game. The problem? The next hitter in the Dons’ lineup, Brylee Rudd, leads the state in home runs. Rudd took the second pitch she saw from Grantsville pitcher Bailey Frischknecht and deposited it over the left-center field fence for a grand slam, and Aislyn Sharp added a solo shot for some insurance as Spanish Fork held on for an 8-3 win.
“(Frischknecht’s) only a sophomore, and I’m not going to let the girl that’s leading the state in home runs hit another home run to beat us,” Taylor said. “You take your chances. (Frischknecht) just kept it a little too much over the plate. Bases are loaded, and it’s a nerve-wracking situation to be in.”
Despite the loss, Taylor couldn’t help but be pleased with what the Cowboys (8-5, 3-0 Region 13) were able to accomplish Friday. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Frischknecht hit a leadoff double to right-center, and fellow sophomore Maddison Peterson hit a game-tying, two-run home run to left-center two batters later. That, along with Breana Hiatt’s solo home run in the first inning, showed that while the Cowboys may be young, they’re up to the challenge of facing one of the state’s top teams.
“We’re going to see Manti, we’re going to see North Sanpete — these teams have good pitchers,” Taylor said. “If we’re going to see teams that have good pitching, then we need to play these teams (like Spanish Fork).”
Bate’s solo home run in the top of the first gave Spanish Fork (12-1, 4-0 Region 10) the early lead before Hiatt responded in the bottom of the frame to tie the score at 1-1. Both Bate and Frischknecht then settled down in the pitcher’s circle until Bate followed Gabby Beckstrom’s leadoff single with a two-run blast to left-center in the top of the fourth to put Spanish Fork up 3-1.
Peterson’s two-run shot tied the game in the sixth, and Grantsville had an opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the seventh after Addison Smith drew a leadoff walk against Bate. After Briley Young replaced Bate in the circle, she got Hannah Butler to strike out and Laura Sandberg hit a fly ball that was caught by the catcher. It appeared that Grantsville caught a major break when Rudd’s throw from behind the plate sailed into center field, allowing pinch-runner Kyrah Shores to steal second base, but Dons center fielder Marae Condie made an excellent throw to third baseman Mallory Barber to get Shores as she attempted to take third.
That sent the game to the international tiebreaker, where Rudd and Sharp did their damage. Grantsville had two runners in scoring position in its half of the inning, but was unable to put anything on the board.
“(The Cowboys) learned that they’re better than they thought they were,” Taylor said. “Spanish Fork is a dang good team. If you make adjustments and you play the game one pitch at a time, you can come out and make any game a possibility to win.”
Grantsville resumed Region 13 play Tuesday at home against Summit Academy in a game that was not complete at press time.