MT. PLEASANT—With a high-profile matchup looming against rival North Sanpete, Manti softball entered last week knowing they would be tested.
Another Katie Larsen home run later, the state’s best 3A team was still riding high.
The Lady Templars came back from spring break and wasted no time in torching their competition, preserving their spotless record with a non-region win against Westlake, 15-6, and a rivalry win over North Sanpete, 5-3. Manti then clobbered a pair of challengers at the Payson Tournament last Saturday, beating Emery, 14-3, and Richfield, 15-0.
“Being that the RPI places each team at state this year, every win is important,” Coach Susan Hatch said. “Manti and North Sanpete have always played tough games against each other. The girls on both teams raise their level of play. It’s fun to see happen.”
Their only blemish came as they finally suffered their first loss of the season, a 2-0 defensive dogfight against undefeated 5A Spanish Fork, a game between arguably the top two teams in the state. Manti remained at the top of the Deseret News 3A rankings.
Manti, in their winning efforts, claimed their second shutout of the season against Richfield. They also scored more than 10 runs for the eighth time. In their loss to the Lady Dons, Manti suffered a shutout loss for the first time since the first game of the 2018 season.
Surprisingly, the Templars’ win over Westlake was done without any home runs. Manti had 11 hits against the Thunder.
The Templars’ win over North Sanpete was their fourth straight over the Lady Hawks. Manti started things off against North Sanpete in the best way, with senior Katie Larsen bombing a home run over center field to score two runs.
At the Payson tournament, Manti got to a great start, slugging their way to a win over Emery in which Larsen bombed two home runs, sophomore Haylee Daniels hit another, and the Templars combined for nine hits.
Against Spanish Fork, Manti’s unstoppable suddenly became stoppable. The Dons got a run on the board at the bottom of the first inning, but their tremendous defense held Manti completely in check. The Lady Templars managed only two hits on base as Spanish Fork pitched eight strikeouts.
Junior Tiffany Hermansen was impressive at the pitching mound herself, pitching six strikeouts for Manti. Spanish Fork managed six hits, one of them a double.
The Lady Templars attained a No. 1 ranking in the first edition of RPI rankings by the UHSAA last week, ahead of undefeated South Summit by a considerable margin.
“As a team, I think we see that we have a lot to work on in order to be considered the best team in the state, which we feel we are not there,” Hatch said. “We also understand that any team at any given moment can beat another team; [we experienced that this weekend]. Our mental toughness needs to be improved and strengthened, and our play on the field needs to be more consistent than what it’s been that past few games.”
Manti next faces Delta this Tuesday and North Sanpete this Wednesday. They will then travel to face American Leadership Academy this Friday.