Tuesday’s Region 10 softball matchup between Tooele and Stansbury was an evenly matched prize fight.
No matter how hard one team punched, the other refused to go down for 10 innings. Both teams made multiple rallies from the brink of defeat. And when the dust settled at the Deseret Peak Complex, Stansbury edged Tooele 7-6 on Aly Oxborrow’s go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 10th inning.
“We got some clutch hits when we needed them,” Stansbury coach Bridget Clinton said. “It was a good game by both teams. It’s good to have those games. Every game is like a playoff game in this region. It was like a 10-inning state championship game.”
Stansbury (8-5, 2-0 Region 10) forced extra innings on Lindsey Allie’s two-out RBI double to left field in the top of the seventh inning, and took a 6-4 lead in the ninth after a pair of Tooele errors. But back-to-back RBI doubles in the bottom of the frame from Amber Lujan and Kamryn Grover pulled the Buffaloes (6-6, 0-2) even again, extending the game.
Allie started the 10th inning on second base for the Stallions because of the international tiebreaker rule, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Tooele pitcher Grover got Stansbury’s Kambree Christiansen and Kaeley Loader to fly out before Oxborrow poked a single through the right side of the Tooele infield to bring Allie home.
“That last one, with the crowd cheering and my team behind me — it felt good,” Oxborrow said. “The pitcher was great, but it felt good to get it through the gap.”
Tooele pinch-runner Sara Ujelhy advanced from second to third on a leadoff sacrifice bunt by Makenna Baker in the bottom of the 10th, but Stansbury pitcher Bailey Christensen got Rylee Anderson and Payton Hammond to fly out to end the game.
“It was a great game on both ends,” Tooele coach Marissa Lowry said. “I think playing game in and game out with this hard competition is going to benefit us and it’s going to prepare us for state, which is our end goal.”
Oxborrow gave Stansbury a 3-0 lead in the first inning with a three-run home run down the left-field line. Tooele cut the lead to 3-1 on Blake Hervat’s RBI single in the second, and a leadoff home run by Hammond and an RBI double by Lujan in the third tied the game. Hammond, who started the game in the pitcher’s circle for Tooele and went 2-for-4 at the plate, gave the Buffs a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out RBI double off the left-field fence.
“Every single game, they come with that [never-say-die] attitude,” Lowry said. “You can’t teach girls that. For them to come in with a never-say-die attitude and play with all their heart is something that I love to be around and to coach.”
Christensen pitched all 10 innings for Stansbury, allowing six earned runs on 11 hits while striking out 13 and walking six.
“Bailey pitched amazing,” Clinton said.
Grover was credited with the loss, allowing three earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts in seven innings. Hammond allowed three runs on three hits in three innings, striking out three.
Stansbury, which had an up-and-down preseason with a difficult schedule, now has momentum on its side as it prepares to host Union in a crucial game Friday afternoon.
“Rivalry wins are the best,” Oxborrow said. “It was a fun game. These games are the best for us and they’re all around more fun for us. It means a lot to us as you could see by our cheering — it looked like we won state again.”
Tooele played host to Grantsville on Thursday in a game that was not complete at press time. The Buffs will travel to Park City on Friday for another region game, with a non-region home game against Maple Mountain on April 20.