Region 9 softball: Cedar outlasts Desert Hills; Canyon View, Snow Canyon also win

Kylie Oldroyd slides into third, Cedar at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — In a back-and-forth battle Tuesday afternoon, the Cedar Lady Reds scored two late runs to escape with a 5-3 victory over Desert Hills.

Quincey Staheli of Desert Hills attempts a sacrifice bunt, Cedar at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

It was the second straight region loss for the Lady Thunder, who fell into a tie for third place in the Region 9 standings with one game remaining. Meanwhile, Cedar, which had already clinched the region title, stayed undefeated.

Neither team scored during the first inning, although Cedar belted two singles and Desert Hills hit one. Cedar then went scoreless again in the top of the second frame, stranding yet another runner.

Desert Hills saw its first two batters hit safely in the bottom of the second, with Kylee Christensen and Codi Olds each hitting a single. Quincey Staheli then attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, but she was called out after coming into contact with the ball while it was in fair territory. The next batter popped up to second, invoking the infield fly rule for the second out. However, Faith Baumgartner followed with a single to score Christensen, and Lexi Green reached base on a dropped ball by the left fielder, with Olds scoring on the play to give the Lady Thunder a 2-0 lead after two innings.

In the top of the third, leadoff batter Japrix Weaver reached first on an infield error. The next batter, Kelsi Oldroyd, hit a pop foul that catcher Addi Betts caught for the out; however, Weaver tagged up and advanced from first to third on the play. Singles by Denim Henkel, Kylie Oldroyd and Mackenzi Whitehair brought in two runs to tie the game, 2-2.

Addi Betts of Desert Hills approaches home plate after hitting a home run, Cedar at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

It didn’t take long for Desert Hills to regain the lead, as Betts led off the bottom of the third with a home run, drilling the first pitch she saw high above the left field fence. The following three Thunder batters all got out.

Cedar went three up, three down in the fourth, as Desert Hills’ infielders continued to make strong defensive stops. However, the Lady Thunder also failed to get anyone on base in the fourth.

Cedar was able to tie the game again in the top of the fifth, thanks to a single by Whitehair that brought in Kelsi Oldroyd, who’d singled to lead off the inning. However, courtesy runner Kaila Gleave was thrown out trying to advance from second to third on the same play, ending the inning.

Desert Hills managed a single in the bottom of the fifth but came away empty handed.

Kaila Gleave is trapped between second and third as Desert Hills third baseman Katelyn Philips prepares to throw the ball, Cedar at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

In the top of the sixth, Cedar’s Becca Boyer reached first base on an infield error. She then advanced to third on teammate KD Anderson’s double over the center fielder’s head. That brought up the top of the order for the Lady Reds, as Weaver hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Boyer. Desert Hills prevented further damage by picking off Anderson at third base on the very next pitch, with catcher Betts immediately rifling the ball to third baseman Katelyn Philips for the third and final out.

Down 4-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Thunder were unable to get anyone on base except for Staheli, who was hit by a pitch. The other three batters flew out.

Kelsi Oldroyd led off the top of the seventh by striking out, but she reached first base on a dropped third strike. Cedar’s next two batters got out, but Oldroyd scored on Britnie Simcox’s double to center, giving the Lady Reds a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the final inning.

Cedar was able to retire all three Thunder batters in the bottom of the seventh, the first on infield popups and the final batter grounding out to second.

Cedar pitcher Kenzie Waters, Cedar at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“What a great game,” Cedar head coach Chris Weaver said afterward. “I’m so proud of our girls for hanging in there and playing tough.”

Even when his team fell behind or made a mistake in the field or on the base paths, Weaver said he wasn’t nervous or anxious. Well, maybe he was a little bit, but he took care not to show it, he admitted.

“Errors are part of the game,” he said. “You just have to keep playing and not let them bother you.”

The game marked only the second time this season the Lady Reds had failed to hit a home run during a region game. Cedar, which improved to 11-0 in region play, has now won 33 straight regular season region games dating back to the beginning of the 2017 season.

Kenzie Waters pitched the entire game for Cedar, allowing six hits while striking out three and walking none. The Thunder’s Christensen also pitched the entire game, giving up 10 hits and striking out three while also walking none.

Desert Hills pitcher Kylee Christensen, Cedar at Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, April 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Their pitcher did a great job against us,” Weaver said of Christensen. “They pitched to us exactly how we would pitch to ourselves.”

Christensen and fellow seniors Betts, Philips and Staheli were honored after the game, their final home contest.

Already assured of the Region 9 title, Cedar (11-0) plays its final regular season game at home against Hurricane (3-8) at 4 p.m. Friday. Meanwhile, Desert Hills (7-4) plays at Pine View (2-9) at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Friday’s other Region 9 contest has important playoff implications, as Canyon View (7-4) will be hosting second-place Snow Canyon (8-3).

“It’s a pinnacle game that we’ve had circled on our calendar since our last contest,” Canyon View head coach JR Robinson told St. George News, referring to Snow Canyon’s 4-2 home win over the Lady Falcons on April 9. “The region has tightened considerably, making this a must-win for both teams.”

Both Snow Canyon and Canyon View managed to pick up road wins on Tuesday:

Snow Canyon 14, Hurricane 2

At Hurricane, the Snow Canyon Warriors belted 10 hits as they cruised to a 14-2 win over the Tigers. The victory, coupled with Desert Hills’ loss to Cedar, moved the Warriors into second place in the region standings and a game ahead of Desert Hills with one game left to play.

Snow Canyon’s Megan Rodgers went 3 for 4 from the plate against Hurricane, including a home run and a double, and teammate Emma Bingham added a homer.

“We played great defense today and had good at-bats,” Snow Canyon head coach Tracee Heaton said.

Payten Jensen was the winning pitcher, allowing just one hit over the first five innings while striking out nine. 

Canyon View 7, Dixie 3

At Dixie, the Canyon View Falcons went ahead 5-0 with a four-run rally in the top of the third, then held on to defeat the Flyers 7-3.

Senior pitcher Jordan Nielson went the distance for Canyon View, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out nine and walking two.

Chloe Ellison, who pitched all seven innings for Dixie, took the loss. Canyon View is now tied with Desert Hills for third place in the region standings with one game left to play, at home vs. Snow Canyon on Friday.

Region 9 softball standings (as of April 30)

Cedar 11-0 (19-2)
Snow Canyon 8-3 (15-5)
Desert Hills 7-4 (15-8)
Canyon View 7-4 (15-5)
Hurricane 3-8 (10-9)
Pine View 2-9 (6-11)
Dixie 1-11 (8-13)

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