Wednesday’s season-opening softball game between Stansbury and Hunter had a little bit of everything, including rain, sunshine, extra innings and a huge comeback.
Stansbury fell behind 7-0 in the first two innings thanks to three errors, but the Stallions rallied for a thrilling 13-12 win capped by a walk-off RBI triple in the 10th inning from freshman Sadie Taylor. It was an impressive comeback for Stansbury (1-0), which had five freshmen in its starting lineup and used 15 different players.
“We’re pretty deep everywhere,” Stansbury coach Bridget Clinton said. “We’re young, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. We started five freshmen and two sophomores, but they’re pretty talented. We’re excited. That’s what you like to see — they battled.”
Hunter (0-1) took a 2-0 lead with a two-out rally in the top of the first inning, beginning with a triple from freshman Megan Jardine. Teya Gasu followed with an RBI double up the middle, and Jacelyn Perkins added an RBI single to right off Stansbury’s Taylor. The Wolverines then stretched the lead in the second as the Stallions allowed five runs — three of which were unearned.
“We haven’t really had a lot of practice time,” Clinton said. “They were nervous — you could tell. We had some bad plays that we don’t usually make defensively, but that’s because we haven’t been outside, and they’re young and nervous.”
Stansbury cut into the lead in the bottom of the second, though it came with a bit of a scare when Taylor went down with an injury as she reached first base on an error to lead off the frame. She was replaced by Bailey Angelo, who came around to score later in the inning when Tori Koerner reached on an error with two outs.
Alize Maddera replaced Taylor in the pitcher’s circle and helped the Stallions maintain a bit of momentum, needing just five pitches to retire the Wolverines in the top of the third. Stansbury put together three runs in the bottom of the frame, with Maame Johnson’s leadoff double setting the stage for RBI singles from Lacey Davies and Angelo and an RBI groundout by McKinzy Lawson to cut the lead to 7-4.
The teams traded runs in a rainy fifth inning as Hunter maintained a three-run lead, but Stansbury tied things up after pitcher Lilly Morris threw a scoreless sixth inning. Kaycee Thornock led off with a single and scored on Johnson’s third double of the afternoon. Johnson eventually scored on a wild pitch, while Davies drew a walk and scored on a two-out error that allowed Lawson to reach base.
“We started getting the hits and started settling down,” Clinton said. “(Maddera) came in and did a really great job pitching and getting some easy outs. After the second inning, I think they relaxed a little bit.”
A scoreless seventh inning sent the game to the international tiebreaker, with each inning starting with a runner on second base. Hunter got the first chance in the tiebreaker, scoring two runs in the top of the eighth on an RBI double by Jardine and an RBI single by Gasu against Morris. Stansbury responded with RBI singles by Davies and Lawson in the bottom of the eighth against Hunter’s Kyalee Van Dam to keep the game alive.
The Wolverines took the lead again on a sacrifice fly by Kayla Hughes in the ninth against SHS reliever Maylee Didericksen, only to have Stansbury tie the game at 11-11 when Ariana Nelson came in to score on a wild pitch. With darkness creeping in, Hunter took its final lead on an RBI single by Lauren Jardine against Taylor in her return to the circle, setting the stage for the Stallions’ final rally.
Stansbury senior Kalee Philips started the inning on second base, and scored the game-tying run on Payten Staley’s one out single to right. That brought Taylor to the plate, and she made no mistake on the first pitch she saw from Van Dam, ripping it to the right-center field gap for a triple that drove in Staley with the game-tying run.
“That was just a total team effort right there,” Clinton said. “We’re excited. We saw a lot of good things today. There’s obviously some things that we need to work on, but it comes with more experience. I liked what I saw.”
Taylor was credited with the victory, allowing eight runs — five earned — on six hits with one walk and two hit batters in three innings. Johnson was the Stallions’ leading hitter, going 4-for-6 with three doubles, an RBI and two runs scored, while Davies was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, Staley was 4-for-5 with an RBI and four runs scored and Lawson was 2-for-5 with three RBIs.
The Stallions’ next game is Tuesday at home against West Jordan.