Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Stansbury softball team in its first meeting with cross-county rival Grantsville, as the Stallions committed eight errors en route to a run-rule-shortened 14-3 loss.
In Friday’s rematch, Stansbury came out determined to prove that game was an anomaly. And thanks to timely hitting, the Stallions did just that, knocking off the Cowboys 7-6 on Aly Oxborrow’s walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning to clinch third place in the Region 10 standings with the state tournament looming.
“It was intense with the crowd and the adrenaline, but I knew I had to come through and it was exciting to actually pull it off,” Oxborrow said.
Grantsville (20-4, 6-2 Region 10) erased a 6-2 deficit with four runs in the top of the sixth inning, setting the stage for a dramatic finish. Cowboys pitcher Maddison Peterson retired the Stallions (16-9, 5-3) in order in the bottom of the sixth and Stallions pitcher Bailey Christensen did the same to Grantsville in the top of the seventh to keep the game tied.
Kambree Christiansen drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh for Stansbury, and advanced to second base on Rylee Ricks’ sacrifice bunt. Oxborrow then ripped a double over Grantsville left fielder Breanna Dzierzon’s head and to the fence in left field, allowing Christiansen to score the game-winning run.
“Both teams played good — it was a good game,” Stansbury coach Bridget Clinton said. “Last time we played them there, we played horrible, and we’re a lot better team than we showed. We know that we’re not that team.”
While the game didn’t mean anything to Grantsville in the standings, as the Cowboys had already clinched the region championship, losing to a county rival still stung.
“I think this one might hurt a little bit — like, personally, it hurts a little more this time,” Grantsville coach Heidi Taylor said. “For the seniors, it was their last region game, so there was some pride on the line.”
Grantsville led 1-0 after a two-out error allowed Brayle Crosman to score in the first inning. Stansbury tied the game on Makinley Miller’s RBI single that scored Kalee Philips in the second, and took the lead in the fourth on Kaeley Loader’s RBI double that drove in Oxborrow. Loader advanced to third on a sac bunt by Philips and scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.
Reannon Justice hit an RBI single in the top of the fifth to pull Grantsville within a run, but Stansbury stretched the lead in the bottom of the frame. Lindsey Allie and Christiansen led off with back-to-back singles, which led Taylor to replace starting pitcher Alese Casper with Peterson. Peterson walked Ricks to load the bases, and Oxborrow hit a single to shallow left-center to score Allie. An error on the same play allowed Christiansen to score as well, and Ricks later scored on a picture-perfect sac bunt by Philips to make it 6-2.
“We hit the ball good, executed and moved the runners when we needed to,” Clinton said. “We played small ball and scored runs and did what we needed to do. That was a good win to end the region season.”
Grantsville scraped together four runs in the top of the sixth. Peterson led off with a double to left-center, and scored on an RBI single by Casper. Maizie Clark and Crosman each reached base on fielder’s choices, and both scored on a fielding error on a fly ball hit by Justice. Justice then scored on a base hit by Kylee Leach to tie the game.
But the Cowboys couldn’t come up with the big hit when they needed it, Taylor lamented.
“We just didn’t make adjustments early, and we know better,” she said. “They’re a good team, and you can’t fall asleep on a good team. There’s a difference in the kill-or-be-killed personality and the we-really-want-to-win personality. We had nothing on the line. The kill-or-be-killed mentality is a big deal in sports, and we didn’t have it today.”
The Stallions will travel to Nephi on Saturday for the first round of the Class 3A state tournament, where they will face Region 11 runner-up and defending state champion Bear River. A win will allow the Stallions to play when the tournament continues next week in Spanish Fork, while a loss will force them to play an elimination game Saturday against the loser of that day’s game between Juab and Hurricane.
“When you get in the tournament, you’ve got to beat everybody so it doesn’t really matter,” Clinton said. “If we play like we’re capable, we can beat anyone.”
Grantsville will host Juan Diego on Saturday in the first round of the tournament.
“I expect them to bounce back,” Taylor said. “They’re kids. They’re going to have bad days.”