The top-seeded Tooele softball team entered play Thursday just one win away from reaching the championship series of the Class 4A state tournament at the Spanish Fork Sports Park.
The Buffaloes (26-3) defeated county rival Stansbury 10-0 in five innings in the first game of bracket play on Wednesday, then slipped past Canyon View 4-3 in nine innings in a quarterfinal game just a couple hours later to advance to Thursday’s semifinal game.
Meanwhile, Stansbury (16-11-1) was eliminated from the tournament, falling to Ridgeline 12-11 in an eight-inning thriller in the one-loss bracket. Ridgeline and Canyon View were set to play an elimination game Thursday morning, with the winner facing Tooele in the semifinal round.
The semifinal winner will advance to the best-of-three championship series, with Game 1 scheduled for noon on Friday. Game 2 will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, with Game 3 at 1:30 p.m. if necessary.
No. 1 Tooele 4, No. 4 Canyon View 3, (9)
Tooele’s Attlyn Johnston kept the Buffaloes alive with a game-tying RBI double that scored teammate Kate Hogan with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Rose Kimball scored the game-winner on a sacrifice fly by Emma Higley in the ninth to keep the Buffaloes undefeated in the state tournament.
Johnston had 17 strikeouts in the pitcher’s circle for the defending-champion Buffs, and Ayden Fitch added two RBIs.
No. 5 Ridgeline 12, No. 8 Stansbury 11, (8)
Stansbury seemingly took control of the elimination game with three runs in the top of the eighth inning, only to see the Riverhawks respond with four runs in the bottom of the frame. The two teams combined for 29 hits in the game.
McKinzy Lawson hit a triple and drove in three runs for the Stallions, while Kesiah Philpot and Kyla Collins each had two RBIs. Kaycee Thornock and Maame Johnson each had a double, and Payten Staley, Johnson and Madi Hicks had one RBI each.
No. 1 Tooele 10, No. 8 Stansbury 0, (5)
Stansbury kept things close for much of the game, but ultimately couldn’t hold off the Buffaloes as Tooele beat its archrival for the third time this season. Tooele scored one run in the second inning and three runs in the third before ending the game with a six-run fifth-inning surge.
Higley was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs for Tooele. Johnston, Lizbeth Garcia, Paige Rydalch and Kennedie Anderson each went 1-for-3 with an RBI, with Anderson’s coming in the form of a solo home run.
Johnston pitched a five-inning one-hitter, striking out 10 and walking just one.