Day one of the 2A softball playoffs didn't go the way the South Summit Wildcats would have liked.
After advancing to the second round of games via a 13-0 rout of Delta, the Wildcats hit a road block when they squared off with San Juan, one of the best teams in the state. Nothing was working for the South Summit offense, eventually sending the Wildcats to the one-loss bracket after a 6-0 loss to the defending state champions.
Due to ominous weather reports for Friday's slate of games, the games originally scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday were moved to 8 p.m. Thursday. Therefore, South Summit played its third game of the day against Kanab, earning an 8-4 win to stay in the hunt for the 2A title.
South Summit coach Cody Bowen said the Wildcats hoped to avoid the one-loss bracket through day one, but he's glad they're still alive and in the hunt.
"It didn't go as well as we hoped," he said. "We just couldn't get anything going in that second game."
The sluggish offense against San Juan started to carry over to the third game against Kanab, too, Bowen noted.
"We struggled there against Kanab for a while, too," he said. "But then we had a big inning and were able to get back on track."
Now the challenge for the Wildcats becomes keeping the bats hot.
The Wildcats faced a long day on Friday, with the potential of three games one at 2 p.m., one at 4 p.m. and one at 6 p.m. (all after this issue went to press). Game one would see the Wildcats take on Grand County. If South Summit won that game, its reward was a showdown against the loser of the Manti-Enterprise game.
"We've got a lot of games ahead of us," Bowen said. "Hopefully we can get on a roll and play the way we know we can play."
After a shuffled Thursday schedule, Bowen said he hoped the rain would hold off so no further scheduling changes would have to be made.
"It's supposed to be scattered showers all day, though," he said on Friday morning.
Bowen said his squad would have to rely on great pitching and a lot of depth in order to make it through to the final day of the tournament on Saturday.
"We're going to have to use all the weapons we have," he said. "We're as equipped as anybody to play a bunch of games it's just a matter of staying with it mentally. Sometimes it's hard to stay focused after a tough loss [like the one to San Juan]."
But with a stable of pitchers that includes Natalie Nichols, Hannah Peterson and Taylor Reidhead, all of whom pitched on Thursday, Bowen believes the Wildcats have the arms to bounce back from the shutout loss.
"We'll probably use all three of them again today," he said. "We're trying to decide how to lay out [the rotation] best. We've got to make sure we don't completely burn one of them out in one game."
The four unbeaten teams heading into Friday's action were Manti, Enterprise, Gunnison and San Juan. Both Gunnison and Manti are in Region 16 with the Wildcats. South Summit finished second in its region, behind Manti and ahead of Gunnison.
For an update of how the South Summit softball team fared in the final days of the 2A tournament, check out Wednesday's edition of The Park Record.