Manti softball team takes third place in state
By James Tilson
SPANISH FORK—The Manti High School softball team advanced to a third place finish in the 3A state playoffs, knocking off North Sanpete along the way in a thrilling 11-inning game last weekend.
Manti started the weekend in the winner’s bracket, playing against defending state champ Grantsville on Friday in the quarterfinals. Then the Lady Templars had to play two more games on Friday to advance to the semifinal game in the consolation bracket on Saturday.
“The girls had a strong desire to win every inning. They knew they had to give 100 percent every play to get closer to that goal,” said Manti Coach Susan Hatch. After a slow start, the Lady Templars finished strong at the end of the regular season and made an electric run through the 3A playoffs.
Grantsville was a tough match-up for the Lady Templars, with a stingy defense led by pitcher Bailey Frischknect. Frischknect was nearly unhittable for Grantsville, striking out 16 Manti batters. Frischknect would later pitch Grantsville to a championship win. Manti tried to stay close, but Grantsville pulled away late to record the victory, 5-0.
That put Manti in the consolation bracket twenty minutes after their loss to Grantsville. Their first matchup was against their region nemesis, North Sanpete. North Sanpete had won both games during the regular season, so the Lady Templars were extra ready for this game. According to Coach Hatch, “We knew that we had not played to our potential, so this game was extra special – especially being in the state tournament.”
Early in the game, Manti not only stifled North Sanpete’s explosive offense, but took the lead going into the seventh inning, 5-3. But then, following a pattern that would be repeated through the rest of the game, the Lady Hawks responded by scratching out two runs in the top of the seventh to tie up the game. When Manti could not score in the bottom of the inning, the marathon was on.
Neither team could score in the eighth. In the ninth, North Sanpete was able to sacrifice in a run in the top of the inning, and then Manti matched it in the bottom of the inning. The tenth inning was the same, with both teams scoring one run.
In the 11th, the drama got kicked up a notch. North Sanpete not only scored the runner starting on second base, but then loaded the bases, looking to blow open the score. But Kiana Pogroszewski, who had come on in relief, was able to limit the Lady Hawks to only one more run. At the bottom of the eleventh, Manti was down 7-9.
Manti once again matched North Sanpete. Manti was able to load the bases, with no outs. Manti got one run on a walk, making the score 8-9. And then, after North Sanpete was able to erase a base-runner and threatened to get out of the inning with a win, Manti catcher Jayda Shaw jacked a home run over the center field fence for three runs and the victory, 12-9.
After that gripping, and exhausting, game, Manti had to play once again on Friday night. Because of the long game before, Manti did not start playing their game against Carbon until after 9 p.m., and did not finish until after 11:30 p.m.
And also once again, Manti had to play until the final at bat to get the victory over Carbon. This time, Manti had to play catch-up. Going into the bottom of the sixth inning, Manti was behind 6-8. Amie Squire, hitting out of the ninth position in the order, hit a rocket over the left-field fence for a two-run home run to tie the game, 8-8.
In the seventh, Carbon surged ahead 8-10. And then Manti went to work again. A single with runners on base gave Manti a run, to make the score 9-10. And then with two runners on, Kiana Pogrowszewski knocked in a double to score two runs and end the game, 11-10.
The Lady Templars came back the next morning to face the Union Cougars at 10 a.m. for the consolation bracket semifinal. It was evident that the drama and exertion from the day before had taken its toll. “The girls were drained mentally, emotionally and physically,” said Coach Hatch.
The game started out fairly tight, with both teams playing well and scratching out runs. By the middle of the third inning the score was 2-3 in favor of Union. But then, fatigue began to tell on the Lady Templars. Starting pitcher Kate Mackey could not locate her pitches, and a throwing error by shortstop Lexi Alder allowed the inning to continue into a big score by Union. By the end of the game, Manti had committed six errors and allowed 11 runs.
Coach Susan Hatch said that a third place finish for the Lady Templars was very gratifying. “We had a great season! Our team had to overcome some challengers that slowed us quite a bit at the first of the season. But we didn’t let that stop us from improving each week. Although we didn’t finish as we wanted, we were pleased with a third place finish in 3A – especially since this was our first year in this classification.”