Draper • The Juan Diego softball team learned two years ago how difficult it is losing your first playoff game and having to fight through consolations.
The Soaring Eagle weren't about to make the same mistake Saturday – even if it meant overcoming a 2-0 first-inning deficit to underdog Carbon.
Paige Castro capped the scoring with a three-run home run in the fourth inning and drove in six runs to lift Juan Diego past visiting Carbon 12-2 in the first round of the Class 3A state softball tournament.
"It's very hard for a team to lose the first game and come back," said Castro, who was a sophomore when Juan Diego lost to Desert Hills in the first round in 2011. "We've been focusing on this first game all week. Having that win takes that much pressure off your shoulders. We came to play."
The Dinos (6-18), who won a play-in game against region rival Delta on Friday, took advantage of two errors in the first inning and went ahead on Lacey Lambson's single. However, Juan Diego pitcher Maddie Davis settled down nicely, retiring nine consecutive batters at one point.
It was Davis' first appearance in the state playoffs.
"We had early morning jitters and a pitcher who's fairly new," Soaring Eagle coach Paul Archuleta said. "But I know we've got a good defense, and I know what our bats are capable of doing. It's a seven-inning game."
Juan Diego (22-3) quickly erased the deficit by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Castro delivered a two-run double, while Melanie Mecham singled home a run before another scored on Kacie Freudenberger's ground out.
The Soaring Eagle padded the lead to 9-2 in the third, sending 10 batters to the plate. Castro, Claire Haddick, Ciera Malloy and Jaicibrooke Bishop each had a run-scoring hit, and another run scored on a passed ball.
"We have such good hitters that if we're on, look out," Archuleta said. "We try to win each inning. We don't ever look ahead because it's such a fast-paced game. It's never relaxed. We go one game at a time."
Juan Diego took a double-digit lead in the fourth inning when Castro crushed her seventh home run of the season off Carbon reliever Katie Basinger.
Despite an undefeated region season and No. 1 playoff seed, the Soaring Eagle are not looking past any playoff opponent. Mecham exemplified that grit by making a catch with her back to the fence in center field during the third inning.
"We don't look at anyone's stats," Castro said. "We play every team like they're the No. 1 team in the state."
Mecham and Malloy both had two hits, while Castro added three for the Soaring Eagle, who advanced to play five-time defending state champion Bear River on Thursday in St. George. Lambson and Taylor Oliver had the lone hits for the Dinos.
Storylines Juan Diego 12, Carbon 2
R The Soaring Eagle scored four runs in the first inning to overcome a shaky start.
• Juan Diego's Maddie Davis earned the win in her playoff debut.