Murray • Herriman softball coach Staci Hemingway readily admits it wasn't easy when the school started up three years ago, trying to get her team on the right side of scores sometimes rather lopsided. Carved out of an area where Class 5A softball powers Bingham and Riverton reign, Herriman had to build with somewhat limited manpower.
"Anyone who's anyone wanted to stay at the other schools," Hemingway said.
But it didn't take long, as it turned out.
With a 5-2 victory at Murray on Tuesday, Herriman clinched the Region 4 title and will go into the Class 4A playoffs with a 15-8, 9-1 mark.
"I couldn't have imagined anything better. It was awesome," Hemingway said. "I'm glad we had the schedule that we did and were able to have them last - Murray is a great team."
Murray (15-9, 8-2) got on the board first when a pair of Herriman errors led to a single run in the opening frame.
The visitors bounced back with two runs in the third as the eighth- and ninth-place hitters, Ashley Shetler and Alexis Duncan, hit consecutive hot shots by Spartans third baseman Echo Lee to start the inning. Both eventually scored on a throwing error when Herriman's Bryce Taylor hit a grounder.
In the fifth inning, it was Shetler and Duncan again that started what would be a three-run rally. Both players singled, Shetler to shallow right as Murray second baseman Emma Noble just missed the ball, and Duncan with another stroke to third.
Lauren Tycksen, Taylor and Ashlyn Visser all would single later in the inning to convert upon the good start by the bottom of the lineup.
"Our whole lineup is pretty strong. It's hard to make a lineup when all nine or 10 of them are hitting pretty well," Hemingway said. "Sometimes it's our one-two-three who pull through; this time it's our seven, eight and nine."
Meanwhile, Taylor held the Murray bats in check until pinch-hitter Maddie Fritsch clubbed a ball high off the left-field fence to score Courtney Beavers in the seventh. Otherwise, the freshman only allowed three hits from the Spartans in the first six innings.
"Just based on stats from the last game, Bryce came in at the end of the last game [against Murray] and did pretty well, it was gut instinct," said Hemingway of her decision to start the ninth-grader. "I knew Bryce had it in her."
"I felt good the whole way through the game," Taylor said.
Herriman 5, Murray 2
R With the win, Herriman clinches the Region 4 title.
• The Mustangs get big production from the bottom third of the order.