GUNNISON—Head coach Sara Ellsworth’s first crack at a playoff game with the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t have gone much better.
Gunnison Valley softball earned the No. 4 seed in the UHSAA 2A softball state championship tournament and subsequently routed No.13 Piute in the first round of the playoffs, 15-0, last Saturday.
The Lady Bulldogs preceded the tournament with two games to wrap up the regular season. They wrapped up region play with a dominant 25-3 rout of North Summit, securing their hold on a share of the 2A Central region title with Duchesne. Conversely, Gunnison then fell hard in a non-region matchup against a resurgent North Sanpete squad, 23-9, last Tuesday.
“We’re very excited for this weekend,” coach Sara Ellsworth said. “We’re going to use the days leading up to state to prepare the best we can for our upcoming games. Anything can happen in the state tournament. We need to get our mental game prepared as well as our physical game.”
Seniors Kennedi Knudsen and Raven Pickett and freshman Maile Ha’o each hit a home run against North Summit. Pickett led the team in RBI with seven total off of three hits.
Gunnison’s effort against Piute showed tremendous consistency and depth as the Lady Bulldogs scored in three out of four innings. No player for Gunnison had more than two RBI, it being a six-way tie between Knudsen, Pickett, senior Hadlee McDonald, junior Lexee Keisel, junior Rilee Dyreng, and sophomore Maggie Bartholomew, all of whom finished with two RBI each.
Kiesel had the most powerful hits of the day, hitting two triples. The junior also pitched, and thanks to a stellar defensive effort behind, Kiesel’s day ended with only a single strikeout and a single hit, still securing the shutout win.
The Lady Bulldogs will next face No. 5 Parowan this Thursday in a tough matchup. Gunnison has not yet faced Parowan this season.