ST. GEORGE — Four girls from southern Utah were instrumental in a dominant run that led to a national championship Saturday afternoon.
Over the past week, an all-star team from the state of Utah has been battling in the Adidas Futures Tournament at the Canyons Softball Complex against teams from across the United States. Today the Utah stars swept through the semifinals and finals to capture the Adidas title.
“It’s been so fun, the funnest experience of the summer,” said outfielder Autumn Shipp, a Snow Canyon senior-to-be. “It’s been rough, but fun. And we showed we can play with and beat anybody.”
Shipp, along with Warriors teammate Brytni Gurney, Pine View’s Kiki Anderson and Canyon View’s Savannah Eckhardt, made the team out of the 175 or so players who were invited and tried out for the Utah team.
Shipp scored the game’s first run and Gurney pitched a complete game as the Utah team beat New Mexico 5-1 in the championship match-up. Earlier the Utah stars beat Texas 9-4 in a semifinal game that set up the finals.
The Utah team had lost two games during pool play early in the week (4-1 to Texas and 10-6 to Florida). But once bracket play started, the Beehive girls really turned on the juice.
“Pitching was the biggest difference,” said Utah coach Matt Hartman. “All four of our pitchers got better and got stronger. All four of them pitched entire games in the bracket play and they all got wins.”
Utah was on the ropes in the quarterfinals, trailing Pennsylvania 5-0 gong into the late innings. Utah scraped out a run to make it 5-1, then scored six runs with two outs in the final inning to take a 7-5 victory. That win, along with some earlier comebacks, earned the Utah team a reputation.
“We overheard them talking and they kept saying, ‘This Utah team is not going to give up. Play hard. They’re coming at you,'” Shipp said. “We were relaxed and just had fun and I think that was part of it.”
Hartman said his team was full of grit.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “These girls just fought hard the whole time. The way they played on this national stage in front of all these college coaches really shows that girls softball in Utah can compete with anybody.”
Shipp played left field in the tourney, a spot she had never played before, though that may be the future for the speedy girl.
“I really liked it,” she said. “I think I can cover a lot of ground with my speed. If that’s where they want me at Snow Canyon, that’s where I’ll be.”
Shipp made the tourney all-star team, along with Anderson, who was spectacular at shortstop for the Utah team. Eckhardt played first base and was solid as well. Shipp led the tournament in stolen bases and teammate Ashley Clayson (Copper Hills) was among the home run leaders with four in the tournament, including a two-run blast in the championship game that gave Utah the lead for good.
Kenzie Rasmussen (Mt. Crest) also made the Adidas Futures Top 96 all-star game, which takes place tonight at 8 p.m. at the Canyons Complex.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.