All three of Tooele County’s softball teams are gearing up for a slew of greuling games in a race for the state title.
On Thursday afternoon, Grantsville will play Payson High School, while Stansbury will take on Cedar High School and Tooele will get a rematch against Juab High School in the 3A State Softball Championship in Spanish Fork.
The Cowboys are coming off of an 11-1 win over Union High School Saturday, in which Kolbi Jo Meno had a home run. Payson’s first round was a 4-0 shutout against Dixie.
Grantsville’s coach, Heidi Taylor, said she has not seen much of Payson’s team, seeded first in Region 12, but was pleased with the growth her team has made as a whole this year and confident they would be able to perform well enough to take down the formidable opponent.
“I haven’t gotten to see Payson play a lot this year, but they’ve got good pitching, good hitting; they’re a solid defensive team. We’re going to have to play real hard like we did the other day and trust each other and have fun,” she said. “We’re going to have to hit the ball and execute the little things.”
Defending state champion Stansbury won its first round with an easy 13-0 win against Juan Diego. Stansbury’s next opponent, Region 9’s No. 1-seed Cedar, also had a shutout in its first round against Carbon with a 7-0 win. Stansbury’s coach, Bridget Clinton, said the solid win was good for morale for the upcoming games.
“It was good to get that first game out of the way,” she said. “We played extremely well and got a lot of confidence going into Thursday, Friday, Saturday this week.”
If both Grantsville and Stansbury win their respective games Thursday afternoon, the two will face off again Friday morning. Both times the two teams have played each other this year, Grantsville has come away with narrow wins.
In their first meeting, on Cowboy turf, the home team scored a 7-6 victory, thanks in part to a three-run homer by Sydney Barney. In the second game, the Stallions’ home-field advantage didn’t stop the Cowboys from rallying in the seventh inning and scoring two runs to win the game 3-2.
Friday’s game, then, would either be a hat trick for Grantsville or third-time’s-the-charm for Stansbury.
Clinton said she believes her squad is ready for that round of the tournament, whether it’s against Grantsville or any other team. She wouldn’t be surprised, though, to play other teams from the region in the later rounds of the championship or to see a Region 11 team take all.
“We definitely haven’t played our best ball when we’ve been agains [Grantsville] but we’re ready to play ball, whoever’s against us. I expect in the final game of the tournament, it will be our region. Our region’s the toughest region in the state,” she said. “The [Stansbury] girls have a lot of confidence and they’re ready.”
Tooele locked horns with Juab in nonregion play last month, and walked away with a 5-7 defeat. Assuming a win against Juab, the Buffs would then play either Canyon View or Uintah, and then potentially face a county school in the next round on Friday afternoon.
The other state contender from Region 11, Bear River, lost 7-9 to Union in its first round, but demolished North Sanpete 22-7 in the elimination bracket Saturday afternoon. The Bears could make it to the finals by winning their next six games.
Thursday play began at 3:30 p.m. at the Spanish Fork Softball Complex at 295 W. Volunteer Drive, Spanish Fork. Friday morning’s game begins at 11 a.m. at the same location, with the next round being played at 3:30 p.m. The final round will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the same complex for the state crown.