Stansbury • Uintah starting pitcher Natasha Barker surrendered eight hits and four runs to the Juab Wasps through the first two innings of Saturday's Class 2A state softball playoff opener.
But the junior never lost her composure and allowed only five hits and one run the rest of the game while she and the rest of the Utes battled back for a 9-5 victory.
"To be honest, I was nervous," Uintah coach Jamey Smuin said. "But the core of this group came together that third inning and … they didn't panic, they didn't get down. They know that we can score big, so they were very confident. They're just confident kids."
Uintah struggled early against Juab pitcher McCall Sperry. But the Utes started to solve her with a run in the second inning before striking for two more in the fourth.
The Wasps clung to a one-run lead entering the fifth inning, but Barker had settled into a groove by then. She was ready to help her team rally from both the pitcher's circle and the plate. Two grounders and a foul fly that was caught gave Barker a 1-2-3 inning, and she followed that with an RBI single, a stolen base and a run scored in the bottom of the inning.
"Everyone was doing so good and playing as a team," Barker said. "We were working together, and I think it's going to boost us up."
All told, the Utes got eight hits and six runs in the frame, taking control of the game for good. The Wasps mustered one more run in the top of the sixth, but Barker threw another 1-2-3 inning in the seventh to secure the win.
Storylines Uintah 9, Juab 5
R The teams combined for 28 hits in the game, including five for extra bases.
• Uintah will face Stansbury in a state quarterfinal game Thursday in St. George.