Prep softball playoffs: Bountiful races to big win and into 5A quarterfinals

Thursday , May 17, 2018 - 9:17 PM

BOB JUDSON
Standard-Examiner correspondent

BOUNTIFUL — Bountiful scored in bunches, totaling 10 runs in just two innings Thursday.

That was more than enough to back up right-handed senior pitcher McHailee Danner. The Braves advanced to the quarterfinals of the state 5A softball tournament with a 10-2 victory over Cottonwood at Millcreek Junior High.

The Braves put seven on the board in the bottom of the first inning, then added a trio of runs in the sixth to cruise past the Colts.

Freshman Livi Arona smashed a two-run double to key an inning where the Braves batted around and had six straight batters reach base with one out.

“I think we all played as a team and had fun together, and that’s how we came out with a win,” Arona said.

Arona had two hits, a run scored and two RBI on the afternoon, while Libbie Hawker pounded three hits — two in the first inning — and scored twice.

Bountiful’s three-run six benefited from a two-run homer by Dashani Purcell. She finished 2 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Danner pitched into the seventh inning when Cottonwood put two runners on with one out. Annie Salazar came in to close the Colts down without a run scoring.

Danner allowed four hits, struck out three, walked one and said the big first inning helped her confidence as the game went on.

“I know my team is going to have my back and are always there for me,” she said. “It lets me relax and let loose.”

Cottonwood put its first batter on in four innings, but Danner was able to work around the trouble and pulled off a trick play in the fifth after the Colts had runners on first and second with one out.

Danner faked an errant throw to second, the shortstop crossed in front of the bag, the second baseman dove behind the base and the centerfielder raced toward the fence acting like she is chasing the ball. All the while, Danner still had the ball in her glove. When the runner strayed, Danner tagged her out in the baseline.

“If it doesn’t work, you look kind of stupid, but if it works, it’s really awesome,” Danner said. “The coach calls it and we all get this look on our faces.”

The net result: Bountiful got out of the inning without Cottonwood scoring a run, maintaining what was a 7-2 lead.

Danner helped herself at the plate, rapping three hits and driving in a run.

“When I was growing up, there was a common stigma about pitchers that they can’t hit,” Danner said. “I was like ‘I’m not going to be that pitcher.’ Hitting is one of my favorite things to do.”

Bountiful coach Butch Latey said Danner has struck out only once all year while hitting third or fourth in the lineup.

The Braves (23-5) advance to play Region 6 champion West (23-5) at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at Valley Softball Complex in Taylorsville.

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