It's been an up-and-down week for the South Summit High School softball team. After losing to 3A Uintah and 2A rival Manti on Thursday and Friday last week, the Wildcats turned in a strong performance at a tournament in Payson, knocking off 2A powerhouse San Juan while going 3-1 on the weekend.
But the bats came back in a big way on Monday afternoon in Heber. Playing against 4A Wasatch, the 2A Wildcats overcame a 4-2 first-inning deficit to pick up a huge 18-6 victory.
Taylor Reidhead led the way for South Summit, smashing a two-run home run in the first inning and also reaching base on a walk and a single. Natalie Nichols was a perfect 5-for-5 from the plate, slapping five singles and scoring five runs from the leadoff spot in the order.
After a sluggish offensive effort against Manti, a team that South Summit coach Cody Bowen considers the best in 2A, the outburst was just what the Wildcats needed.
"This was good," Bowen said. "We put up a lot of runs today, which we didn't do against Manti. Today was outstanding with our hitting. All the girls, one through nine, had base hits. We were hitting balls really hard and scored in every inning but two."
Though Nichols struggled in the first inning, Bowen said he's happy with the way she bounced back late in the game.
"They got to Natalie a little bit in that first inning, but that's the beauty of this team we're deeper," he said. "Hannah [Peterson] shut them down for three innings, then we came back to Natalie and she was really good those last two innings.
He added that South Summit will need to continue to show its versatility and endurance as the long season wears on.
"Depth is one of our big strengths," he said. "It showed today, especially in the pitching area."
Leading 18-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Wildcats collected two quick outs before a couple errors allowed Wasatch to score a late run. Bowen said that was the biggest thing his team needs to work on.
"We're just trying to make sure we put together seven-inning games," he said. "We can't have lapses defensively where we make silly errors. That's been a little bit of our problem. Against teams like Manti, they're not going to give you anything. We're just going to have to keep working on things like consistency and simple plays."
South Summit (16-5 overall, 4-1 in Region 16) will host region-rival Gunnison on Friday afternoon. Bowen said that will be a huge test for the Wildcats.
"We've got to win," he said. "They're a great team and right now we're tied with them for second place [in Region 16]. I'd like to go back to Manti having only lost that one game, so we still have a chance to win the region championship. That's the goal."
Friday's game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. at the softball complex in Oakley.