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West Valley City • The same two teams were playing Thursday, but things had changed quite a bit since the last time three weeks ago that Bear River took on Tooele.
This time, the event was the Class 3A state softball tournament as opposed to an invitational hosted by Tooele. And Tooele suddenly and unexpectedly had a new head coach to lead the Buffs' charge into the postseason.
But the biggest scoreboard change of all? Bear River got a fairly secure grip on this game from the start, and the Bears rolled past the Buffaloes 7-3 at the Valley Softball Complex.
Scoring in every inning but the sixth, Bear River (19-3) had consistency at the plate and the strong pitching of sophomore Kapri Toone to carry its way into the semifinals of the championship bracket.
"I tell them that in the state tournament you've got to have one run an inning," Bears' coach Calvin Bingham said. "I guess I've got to change it to two, because I was still nervous about it.
"But, you know, I'd rather score one or two an inning than a whole bunch one inning and then nothing," he added.
In the bottom of the Bear River first, Mercedes Call led off with a single and was joined on the bases by Kylie Larkin and Brenna Hinck who walked and got a bunt single, respectively.
Toone's slow grounder to Tooele pitcher Kameron Grover was enough to give the Bears a 1-0 lead, although Grover got out of the inning with no further damage.
A double by Call in the second drove home the Bears' second run, but Tooele answered with a triple by Izzy Nicholas in the third and she crossed home on a sacrifice fly.
In innings three, four and five, Bear River got Toone some breathing room.
A ground rule double by Sydni Sorenson in the third was part of a two-run frame. Another double by Hinck to lead off the fourth was translated into a run and, in the fifth, Larkin and Hinck gathered singles as part of another two-run rally.
Tooele (16-8) won the first matchup 5-4 on April 23. The Buffs, who will play Union in an elimination game today, got the last big blow of the game when Sierrah Anderson socked a two-run homer to dead center in the sixth.
But Toone didn't allow a runner to get to second base the rest of the way.
"I think it was the frame of mind. We were more in it to win it this time around," Toone said.
Buffaloes' assistant coach Mike Walker said he was asked last week by the Tooele administration to assume head coaching duties in place of Melanie Nelson.
Heading into state, Tooele's resume was impressive regardless of the coaching situation. The Buffaloes' slate included wins over 4A Alta and 3A Juab the only losses of the season for both of those teams.
"We had a few more errors this time. Bear River's a good team and they're going to capitalize on every error you make," said Walker, who was not discouraged by the loss.
"We plan on being in the championship game," he said.
Thursday's second round Winners' bracket • Stansbury 4, Snow Canyon 0 • Bear River 7, Tooele 3 • Juab 15, Logan 0 • Grantsville 13, Cedar City 2 Losers' bracket • Cedar City 2, Carbon 1 • Logan 10, Canyon View 7 • Tooele 4, Union 3 • Snow Canyon 3, North Sanpete 0 Friday's games Winners' bracket
• Stansbury vs. Bear
River, 10 a.m.
• Juab vs. Grantsville, 10 a.m. • Stansbury-Bear River winner vs. Juab-Grantsville winner, 3 p.m. Losers' bracket • Cedar City vs. Logan, 10 a.m. • Tooele vs. Snow Canyon, 10 a.m.
• Stansbury-Bear River loser vs. Cedar City-Logan winner, 12:30 p.m. • Juab vs. Grantsville loser vs. Tooele-Snow Canyon winner, 12:30 p.m.