Bountiful •The Bountiful softball team regrouped along the grassy knoll after downing East 18-2.
Assistant coach Russ Stoddard addressed the team as the players threw on hoodies trying to warm up after the chilly four-inning affair Tuesday.
"Who got hit today?" Stoddard asked, causing three hands go up. "Feels good on a cold afternoon, doesn't it?"
The girls laugh, sharing bruises received from being beamed three times in the batter's box.
It wasn't just the toughness to take the pitches that improved the Braves to 5-0 in region. It was their sharp hitting and smart base running that led to a dominant victory over East.
Bountiful was the model of efficiency from the start, hitting six consecutive singles in the first inning. No. 7 hitter Landi Hawker, a freshman, came to the plate and hit the ball deep to left, legging it out for a grand slam.
"I was just trying to move the runners," Hawker said sheepishly. "It's way fun hitting my first home run."
Belle Stoddard struck out five, giving up three hits and a walk, to earn the win. She committed to the changeup and worked a combination of pitches to keep the Leopards off-balance.
"My outside curveball is my go-to pitch, and it was breaking well today," Belle Stoddard said. "It was the changeup and rise that really kept them guessing."
Stoddard was only in trouble once, giving up a two-run home run in the fourth. A quick timeout with teammates settled Stoddard down after East's Kuea Angilau rounded the bases.
"They told me that they had my back, we got you," Stoddard said. "I knew I could throw ground ballers and they'd get them out."
Bountiful coach Russ Latey credited his seniors for setting the example.
"Leadership goes a long way, and it's gone a long way this year," Latey said. "I'm real impressed with the work they're doing."