Snow Canyon comes from behind to win; advances to World Series semifinal

Jenna Thorkelson of West (Snow Canyon) pitches versus Redmond, Washington, during quarterfinal game of Junior League Softball World Series, Kirkland, Wash., Aug. 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Tara Landis, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Halfway into their do-or-die quarterfinal game of the Junior League Softball World Series, the West team from Snow Canyon, Utah was in an unfamiliar position: they were still scoreless and were trailing their opponent, the tournament’s host team from Washington, by two runs heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.

It marked the first time in the tournament the West champions had been behind in a game; the Snow Canyon girls had posted a 4-0 record over four days of pool play Sunday through Wednesday, outscoring their opponents by a collective total of 40-5.

Breckyn Atkinson of West (Snow Canyon) hits a single versus Redmond, Washington, during quarterfinal game of Junior League Softball World Series, Kirkland, Wash., Aug. 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Tara Landis, St. George News

“When we were down 2-0, we were a little nervous,” West outfielder McKenna Staheli told St. George News afterward. “But we have confidence in each other, and knew that we would break through. We stayed positive and came out strong with a big hitting inning.”

The Snow Canyon bats finally came to life in the bottom of the fourth, as the team accumulated four hits and a walk while taking advantage of a few Washington miscues. When the dust settled, the West team had built an 8-2 lead in the fourth and would go on to win 12-3 in seven innings.

West coach Jeremy Mooring said he was proud of his players for not getting frustrated during the first three innings, when the team managed only one hit and got two runners on base.

“I kept telling them to focus and believe and eventually good things would happen,” he said, adding, “Once we finally put together a few good hits, things turned in our favor.”

West took the lead for good on Addison Lacayo’s bases-loaded single in the fourth, a hard-hit line drive to the right-field fence that scored two runs to make it 4-2.

“I didn’t really feel any pressure going up to the plate,” Lacayo said. “I just knew that I wanted a solid hit. I was excited that I brought in two runs.”

Starting pitcher Jenna Thorkelson threw all seven innings for Snow Canyon, scattering seven hits while striking out eight batters and walking two.

Jael Wilde of West (Snow Canyon) hits a double off the fence versus Redmond, Washington, during quarterfinal game of Junior League Softball World Series, Kirkland, Wash., Aug. 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Tara Landis, St. George News

West tacked on two more runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to remain comfortably ahead. The Snow Canyon girls tallied a total of nine hits, including two apiece by Jael Wilde and Erin Gunn.

“We are experiencing good chemistry right now from all the girls,” Mooring said. “Emma Miller, Erin Gunn, Addison Lacayo and Breckyn Atkinson came up big with clutch hits today.”

“Our defense was solid again today, with Anyssa Montano making a heads-up play in the outfield and catcher Kambrie Stuart picking off a girl out at first.”

The Junior League Softball World Series, which features 10 teams of players aged 13-14, is being staged in Kirkland, Washington, this week. After four days of pool play, the top eight teams were seeded into a single-elimination bracket to decide the champion.

Thursday’s quarterfinal games eliminated four teams from contention, and interestingly enough, all four winning teams were from the same pool, known as Pool B. In addition to top-seeded West, which stayed undefeated, Pool B saw wins from the second-seeded East team from Rhode Island, which defeated the Southeast team from Florida, 1-0; third-seeded Italy, which outlasted Philippines team 2-0; and the fourth-seeded Southwest team from Texas, which pulled off an upset by beating Pool A’s top seed, the Central team from Poland, Ohio, by a score of 9-4.

Friday’s semifinal games will feature West (Snow Canyon) vs. Europe-Africa (Italy) at 2 p.m. and Southwest (Texas) vs. East (Rhode Island) at 5 p.m. Click here for full schedule. West defeated Italy 18-4 during pool play Tuesday.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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