From the moment softball season started in March, there was never much doubt in the minds of the Stansbury Lady Stallions that they would be a strong contender for the state championship.
Anchored by five seniors who all went on to play college softball, the Stansbury softball team blasted its way through the regular season with an explosive offense, and got superb pitching when it needed it most in the state tournament.
There was a little bit of surprise in the seniors’ reactions following its win in the state championship game over Spanish Fork on Saturday, May 18. But winning the whole thing was still their goal all along.
“As a senior, it’s your dream,” said senior shortstop Lindsay Guymon following the state championship game. “You always wanted to win the state championship. It’s just so surreal.”
Senior left fielder Katelyn Robinson echoed Guymon’s point.
“It’s just nice to know that hard work actually gets you somewhere,” Robinson said after the state championship. “It’s really sad that I’m not going to be able to play with all these guys again.”
Stansbury’s championship run featured a little bit of everything. They had multiple blowout wins that were shortened by the mercy rule, including a knockout punch against tournament favorite Snow Canyon on Friday, May 17.
The Snow Canyon Lady Warriors were undefeated on the season going into their game against the Stansbury Stallions, but that didn’t matter. Stansbury came out swinging and led Snow Canyon 9-0 after the first two innings. That offensive explosion was highlighted by a three-run home run from Guymon. Finally, the fourth inning came to an end with Stansbury ahead 16-0, ending the game on the 15-run rule.
Stansbury also played in dramatic contests, especially in its semi-final and championship rounds. Late Friday evening, the Lady Stallions met up with Region 11 rival Bear River in the semi-finals.
Robinson drove in junior center fielder Janessa Bassett to give the Stallions an early 1-0 lead. Following an RBI base hit by senior Karlee Manzione, the bases were loaded for senior Jocelyn Kaufman.
She took a hack at a pitch that went deep. The ball sailed over the fence in center field for Kaufman’s first career home run — a grand slam that put the Lady Stallions ahead of Bear River 6-0.
The most dramatic moment of all in this championship run came right at the very end in the championship round against Spanish Fork.
Stansbury played a clean sweep through the tournament to be the representatives from the winner’s bracket, while Spanish Fork defeated Bear River in the loser’s bracket to win its way back into the championship round.
The opportunity to play an extra game was certainly needed for Stansbury, as Spanish Fork’s offense took off for a 9-3 win in Game One. Pitcher Kimbri Herring was beaten up in that first game, but she showed resilience and came right back out to start Game Two for Stansbury.
“Kimbri was just nervous in that first game,” said Stansbury coach Bridget Clinton following the state championship win. “It’s a lot of pressure to put on a sophomore. We just didn’t play very good. Kimbri had an off few innings, but she came back, and everybody calmed down. Everybody calmed Kimbri down.”
Bassett said after the game that the team needed an energy boost.
“The first game we were just kind of flat,” Bassett said. “We came out with a lot more energy.”
Manzione said the players just needed to put the first game away and focus on winning the second game and bringing home the state championship to Stansbury High School.
“[The first game] was in the past,” she said. “Three seconds and it’s gone. We just decided that we needed to be pumped up.”
With both teams now facing elimination, Stansbury pulled it together in Game Two.
Spanish Fork still made life difficult for the Lady Stallions, as it took a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the second inning. That’s when Guymon made her over to third base, and Elise Sutherland stepped in to the box for her at-bat.
Sutherland swung at a pitch and made perfect contact to send the ball high into center field. The ball softly landed on the other side of the fence for a two-run home run that tied the game at 3.
Sutherland said her thoughts were simple when the ball went over the fence. She said the two words in her head were “heck yes.”
“It felt really good,” Sutherland said. “I was pretty proud of myself finally getting a hit this tournament.”
Her hit was one of the most important of the season; it triggered the rally that propelled the Lady Stallions to the state championship.
Bassett kept the momentum going after the Sutherland home run. She got on base with a hit and then stole second. She then advanced to third base on an overthrow, and then came home for a 4-3 lead after a wild pitch. The Stallions tacked on two more runs later in the game to pull out the 6-3 win over Spanish Fork, giving them the state championship.
“We were just destined to do it,” said Clinton. “That’s all there is to it. They just play hard for each other, and they truly love each other.”