The Grantsville softball team’s pursuit of a third consecutive state championship comes down to one weekend against the best Class 3A has to offer.
Thanks to the weather, it will be a busy two days for the Cowboys, as Wednesday’s rains made the fields at the Spanish Fork Sports Complex unplayable on Thursday. The tournament will thus be compressed into Friday and Saturday, with the eventual champion needing to win at least four games in a span of 30 hours.
Grantsville (20-5), fresh off a 19-1 win over Providence Hall in Saturday’s first round, will face Region 14 runner-up Juab (12-8) in a second-round game at 11 a.m. Friday in Spanish Fork. The teams did not meet this season, but they have three common opponents: Mountain Crest, Providence Hall and North Sanpete. Juab is 3-1 against those teams, having lost to Mountain Crest, while Grantsville is 3-0.
The Wasps have a formidable offense, boasting a .413 team batting average. They are led by Reggie Myers and her .508 average that includes five doubles and four triples. Raygen Newton is hitting .444 with 29 RBIs, eight home runs, seven doubles and a triple, and Keanna Williams has a team-high 10 doubles to go with a .469 average.
However, Juab is also capable of allowing a lot of runs, as evidenced by the Wasps’ 5.97 team earned-run average. Opposing teams hit .312 off the Wasps’ pitching, which could spell trouble for Juab against a Grantsville squad that hits .395. The Cowboys have blasted 34 home runs this year, led by Maddison Peterson (7) and Laura Sandberg (5), while Hannah Butler, Jaelynn DeLaney and Rylee Udom have each hit four. Udom is hitting .559, and her 33 hits this season rank behind Peterson and Sandberg on the Cowboys’ roster — each of them have 34.
Meanwhile, Grantsville’s pitching has been a source of strength, boasting a 2.06 ERA and an opponents’ batting average of .182. Bailey Frischknecht is the ace of the pitching staff, though coach Heidi Taylor is more than willing to turn to Peterson or sophomore August Cowan in the pitcher’s circle. Those three pitchers have combined for 183 strikeouts and just 24 walks.
The winner of the 11 a.m. game will play either Manti or Carbon in a quarterfinal game at 3 p.m. The loser will turn around and play an elimination game against Morgan at 1 p.m.
In the other two winner’s bracket games at 11 a.m., Union will face North Sanpete and Grand will play South Sevier. Emery, American Leadership Academy and Richfield are still alive in the one-loss bracket.
Tooele (20-2), which cruised to the Region 11 championship, will play host to Desert Hills in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at 11 a.m. at Deseret Peak Complex. The winner will play its second-round game immediately afterward, while the loser will play an elimination game.
The other two teams in the first-round “pod” had not been determined at press time Thursday.
Desert Hills (16-8) is the No. 4 seed from Region 9, and averages just under nine runs a game. The Thunder have plenty of pop in their lineup, having hit 48 home runs this season — 14 of which came off the bat of Addi Betts. Codi Olds and Tori Hinton each hit nine homers and Lexi Green hit seven this season.
However, they’ll be going against one of the state’s most dominant pitchers in Tooele’s Attlyn Johnston and a Tooele team that has allowed just 16 runs all season. The Buffaloes also have power throughout their lineup, as starting outfielders Amber Lujan, Bryerly Avina and Kennedie Anderson are all capable of going deep, as are infielders Kate Hogan and Madi Baker.
At Bear River High School in Garland, Stansbury (16-10-1) will face Canyon View in a first-round game at 10 a.m. The loser will play an elimination game at 2 p.m. and the winner will play a second-round game at 4 p.m.
Canyon View (18-5) averages 10 runs a game, but is mostly reliant on its pitching. Jordan Nielson is 14-3 with a 2.11 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings, and opponents hit just .230 off of her. She also boasts a .500 batting average with four home runs and 11 doubles. Taylee Braegger hits .507 with three home runs, nine doubles and a triple.
Stansbury hopes its offense can get something going against Nielson. The Stallions are hitting .451 this season, led by Maame Johnson’s .575 average with 14 doubles, five triples and three home runs. Kalee Philips is hitting .488 with 10 doubles, five triples and two home runs, and Lacey Davies is at .463 with 10 doubles, seven triples and a home run. Payten Staley is hitting .500 with nine doubles, three triples and three home runs.
The Class 4A tournament concludes May 16-18 in Spanish Fork.