The Stansbury softball team knows what it takes to get to the top, having won the past two Utah Class 3A state championships.
The Stallions already have started the climb, opening the season with a 6-4 win over Springville and backing it up with a 12-2 win over Davis.
“I liked what I saw,” Stallions coach Bridget Clinton said after last Friday’s season-opening win over Springville. “Springville is a tough team. Their pitcher throws better than a lot of the pitchers we’ll face, but we play a tough schedule on purpose.”
The Stallions return six seniors from last season’s championship-winning squad in Dallas Harrison, Alyssa Warr, Kilee Christiansen, Maddie Riolo, Kimbri Herring and Jade Callister.
Herring, Christiansen and Riolo all played key roles for the Stallions in the win over the Red Devils, with Herring allowing no earned runs and striking out 14 batters. Christiansen was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double, an RBI and two runs scored, while Riolo was 2-for-4 with a triple and three runs.
The Stallions already have shown championship-level resiliency. In the fifth inning of last week’s season opener, a dropped fly ball allowed Springville to score four unearned runs against Herring. Rather than allowing the miscue to spoil their afternoon, the Stallions came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to regain the upper hand.
“I feel like it had a lot to do with our mental game,” Riolo said of the rally. “We didn’t let anything destroy us. We came back and rose to the challenge.”
While the season opener required the Stallions to overcome a bit of adversity, their second game against Davis showed just how relentless Stansbury can be when its offense is firing on all cylinders. The Stallions pounded out 14 hits. Five Stansbury hitters had multiple hits in the onslaught.
Strong camaraderie appears to be one of the Stallions’ biggest strengths this season. With a good mix of experience and youth, Stansbury looks to be among the elite teams in Class 3A yet again in 2014-15.
“I think what makes us so good is that we’re all really close,” Kilee Christiansen said. “We’re family. We’re all really selfless and we play hard for each other.”
The Stallions will rely on their pitching and a solid infield anchored by three-year starting shortstop Anjalee Batchelor. Through the first two games, the Stansbury defense has committed just one error, while Herring has struck out 25 batters and allowed only two earned runs in 13 innings of work in the circle.
“I think it’s going to be a great season,” Callister said. “Through teamwork and hard work, I think we can make it a long way. We don’t want to jinx ourselves right now, but it’s going to be a good season. We’re a good team.”
Stansbury will be battle-tested when Region 11 play gets under way April 3 at Tooele. In fact, Tooele will be the first Class 3A opponent the Stallions will face this season. Their upcoming schedule features games against Spanish Fork, Pleasant Grove, Oaks Christian (California), Salem Hills and Murray at a tournament in St. George, as well as home games against Hunter, Copper Hills, Brighton and Alta and a road game at Provo.