By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
After surviving a tense defensive battle two days earlier to get to the final of the Utah All-Star Tournament, the Cedar American junior softball team was in need of a little help as they looked to avoid a second game against Snow Canyon for the title.
Two big rallies righted the ship and put the team on the road to another summer tournament.
Japrix Weaver’s RBI single to start a five-run rally in the fifth inning, and her sixth-inning double started a seven-run rally that sealed a 14-4 run-rule victory over Snow Canyon last Thursday that earned the team a second straight trip to Tucson, Ariz., for the Junior League West Regional that begins Thursday at 6 p.m. against a team from Southern California.
All of the runs in the sixth inning that sealed the victory for Cedar American came with two outs, a fact that surprised head coach Martin Anderson.
“I put in some of the other players thinking they’d get a little time, but everyone who came in kept hitting,” Anderson said.
Following Weaver’s double, she stole third. Kelsey Oldroyd walked and Denim Henkel – who had hit four home runs during the tournament – was walked intentionally to load the bases.
The move would backfire for Snow Canyon as Laney Anzalone doubled to drive in two runs and Gracie Morales added a two-run double that stretched the Cedar American lead to 12-4. Logann Laws singled to drive in the final run and clinch the championship a full inning early.
“That was pretty big for us,” Weaver said. “I was surprised at how many errors they made, but every team makes them and we hit the ball really hard.”
Snow Canyon got on the board first in the top of the third when Addie Lacayo hit a two-run double off Weaver, but Oldroyd helped Cedar American answer with a two-run homer with two out that tied the score.
Needing to win to force a second game, Snow Canyon responded with single runs in the fourth and fifth, but Cedar American took full advantage of shaky defense in the late innings to advance.
Cedar American earned an off day before the final after beating Snow Canyon 4-3 last Tuesday Snow Canyon led 3-2 after four innings, but Laws led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple and Weaver reached on an infield single that scored the tying run.
Henkel led off the sixth with a triple and hustled home with what proved to be the winning run on a Katie Anderson fielder’s choice.
Snow Canyon got a leadoff single in the top of the seventh, but Payton Naegele fielded a line drive near the bag at first base that she turned into a double play for the final outs that finished off the win.
Follow details on Cedar American’s progress throughout the Junior League West Regional at llbws.org by clicking on “Junior League” in the Softball Tournaments tab.