3A softball: Stansbury claims school's first state title

Elise Sutherland's home run ignites Stansbury's offense.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

St. George • Nothing that happened before Elise Sutherland's first at-bat during Stansbury's second contest could foreshadow what was coming next.

She struck out twice and stranded a village on the basepaths against Spanish Fork in the first game Saturday.

Sutherland made up for it with her team trailing by two in the second inning of a winner-take-all title match-up against the Dons.

She put a charge into the ball that helped the Stallions make school history.

Sutherland, Stansbury's No. 9 hitter, crushed a two-run homer to tie the game, which ignited her team's bats en route to a 6-3 win over Spanish Fork to claim the Class 3A state softball championship at the Little Valley Fields.

It was the first championship in any sport for Stansbury (29-3), which opened its doors in August 2009.

"When the moment is right and the game is on the line, I just knew it was going to happen," Sutherland said. "It felt right."

From the third-base coach's box, Stallions coach Bridget Clinton could absorb the electricity Sutherland put into her team.

"It was an absolute bomb to center into the wind," said Clinton, who was soaked from a postgame ice-water dousing.

"That was a huge lift and momentum turn. From then on, everyone hit the ball hard."

Stansbury, which succumbed to Spanish Fork 9-3 in the first game Saturday, added another run in the second inning of Game 2 when the speedy Janessa Bassett raced home on a wild pitch. A passed ball plated Lindsay Guymon, and Beth Chipman singled home another insurance run to make it a 6-3 advantage in the fourth inning.

In the meantime, Stansbury pitcher Kimbri Herring found her groove.

Herring, who was chased in the first game after allowing four runs on six hits over 41⁄3 innings, settled down in the nightcap after Spanish Fork scored three in the second inning to vault in front 3-1.

The Dons (26-7) were scoreless from that point on as Herring danced out of trouble time and again. She stranded six runners.

The sophomore, who competed for the Stallions in swimming and gained 5 mph on her fastball in the process, thwarted Spanish Fork's biggest threat in the sixth inning. Dani Perkins, who amazed with two leaping catches at the wall to keep the Dons in it, popped out with a pair of runners on base.

"That's a lot to ask of a sophomore to pitch in the championship game," Clinton said. "She came back in that second game and pitched lights out."

Spanish Fork snapped Bear River's string of five consecutive state titles by escaping with a hair-raising 4-3 win in the first game of the day to set up the final. —