Manti softball still best in 3A

MANTI—It was yet another weekend where the Lady Templars took care of business early and efficiently.

For the sixth time this season, The Manti High softball team ended a game with a win via the mercy rule within the first four innings, demolishing American Leadership Academy, 20-0, in just three innings last Friday to cap a 3-0 week.

The Lady Templars also posted dominant victories over Delta, 13-0, last Tuesday in five innings and North Sanpete, 11-1, last Thursday.

“The girls worked hard on defense this week,” Coach Susan Hatch said. “Their hard work in practice is paying off. Of course, there is always room for improvement.”

With Manti’s record standing at 16-2, and their only losses coming against 5A squads Spanish Fork and Payson, their spot at the top of the 3A RPI rankings remained unchanged, about .05 points ahead of No. 2 South Summit.

“A loss can be good for a team,” Hatch said. “I believe the losses helped the girls refocus with the goals they have set for the team.”

Senior Katie Larsen added two more home runs to her spectacular season for a total of 14, enough to tie for leading all of Utah in home runs.

The struggling ALA team provided ample opportunity for the Lady Templars to put on a clinic, but the Delta Rabbits, playing Manti at the beginning of the week, were the first team to incur the wrath of the Manti hitters.

Manti only needed two innings to get to their 13-run lead on the Rabbits, including two home runs, one by Larsen, the other by junior Ashley Rasmussen, her third of the season. Manti then relied on defense to salt the game away in five innings.

Against North Sanpete, it was a more slow-going affair. Two scoreless innings to start brought the look of a defensive dogfight between talented rivals. Manti pulled out a small 1-0 lead at the bottom of third as a runner crossed home plate right before Manti got tagged out on third base to end the inning.

At the top of the fifth inning, Manti came alive. After getting a runner on second, the Lady Templars hit a string of doubles that scored three runners. Then sophomore Haylee Daniels nailed a line drive to right field to score two more, suddenly blowing the game open for a 6-0 Templar lead.

North Sanpete responded in kind when sophomore Lucy Oldroyd blasted a home run single to get the Lady Hawks on the board, Oldroyd’s fourth home of the season.

Despite that, Manti’s hitting came alive and the Templars turned a low-scoring affair into a rout, totaling 13 hits for the game. Larsen, usually the hero at the plate, ended the game as she crossed home plate for the Templars’ 11th run, enforcing the 10-run mercy rule.

Larsen cracked another home run against ALA as Manti totaled 15 hits to none for the Eagles as Manti finished a dominant week.

“Every game is important for our team, as each game has an impact on our RPI score and seeding for state,” Hatch said. “Of course, we would like to finish the rest of the season with wins, but our overall goal is to be playing our best ball when we head into the state tournament.