ST. GEORGE—Only Snow could stop the Lady Templars.
No, The Manti softball team did not have a game against the junior college team from Ephraim, but a very unexpected snowstorm in the usually warm red cliffs of St. George may have been the only thing that kept them from obliterating the field of competition at the Redrock Classic at Desert Hills High School. Despite canceling two games to the storm, the Lady Templars dominated in a 4-0 showing at the classic en route to a 5-0 record to start their season.
Manti began the season by dispatching 5A Lehi at home, 11-5, and then ran roughshod through their opponents at Redrock. First, they absolutely pulverized a young Gunnison Valley team in three innings, 23-0. Then, Manti plowed through 4A Desert Hills, 17-1, in four innings and edged out a top-five 4A squad in Bear River, 3-1.
Manti had to give up on a date with 4A Crimson Cliffs and a high-brow matchup with another top-five 4A squad in Snow Canyon, but Coach Susan Hatch worked something out to play a final game down south against 5A Springville, and the Lady Templars avenged a 2019 loss to the Red Devils with a 4-2 victory.
Even with a tremendous first week, Hatch’s comment expressed an always-poignant “long ways to go.”
“The girls are working hard and progressing to this point but have a long ways to go due to the fact that the spring sports were cancelled last year because of COVID,” Hatch said. “We have a lot of potential, but we have a lot to do to improve to be where we want to be for us to be competitive. We have three seniors who are working hard to lead our team by example with their work ethic. With the right attitude and goals being met, the team will have a fun season.”
For anyone who wasn’t aware what kind of firepower the Lady Templars were bringing this season, it didn’t truly show up until the bottom of the fifth inning of the season opener against Lehi. After Lehi jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the first inning, Manti gradually snuck past with a run per inning until they were ahead, 3-2.
Then at the bottom of the fifth with a tie game, Manti exploded for eight runs to pull way ahead and bury the visiting Pioneers.
Following blowouts against Gunnison and Desert Hills, Manti took on one of their most difficult games of the season against Bear River and quickly learned a lot about each other’s defense.
With Manti’s hot streak and Bear River coming off a 12-run performance over Crimson Cliffs, neither team could score a single point until the sixth inning. That was when Manti finally got a 3-0 lead on the board and did not relinquish.
Finally, the Templars pulled together one more game in the desert against top-five 5A squad Springville. Manti got the early lead with a 1-0 first inning and stayed ahead the whole game, even when Springville pulled out two runs at the top of the fourth inning.
Expert fielding kept Manti on top of the Red Devils even as junior pitcher Tiffany Hermansen threw a relatively low four strikeouts in the low-scoring matchup.
Senior Katie Larsen was phenomenal through the first week at bat for Manti. The heavy hitter delivered four home runs over the entire week to lead Manti, part of a 10 total RBI effort.
Coming up, Manti takes on a fellow top-five 3A team in Carbon at home this Tuesday, and they’ll follow that with another home contest against Juab next Tuesday.