Monday afternoon got off to a bad start for the Park City High School softball team.
Only minutes before the game against South Summit at PCHS, the Miners received some terrible news: Senior starting pitcher Cass Chester had been hit in the head by a ball during warm-ups and wouldn't be able to play.
Though she was doing well after the game, she was not cleared to participate in her final home game at PCHS.
Not only had Chester won 10 games as a pitcher (including a no-hitter against Judge Memorial), she was also hitting .429 at the plate.
Without her, the Miners struggled, eventually falling to their in-county rivals 12-3.
South Summit continued its season-long string of hot hitting, jumping on the Miners with four first-inning runs and never looking back.
But the Wildcats almost had to deal with an injury of their own in the first inning when a batted ball hit pitcher Natalie Nichols.
"That ball that hit Natalie there at the beginning scared me a little bit," South Summit coach Cody Bowen said. "An injury is the last thing we need in our last game before the playoffs."
Nichols was fine, though, and proceeded to pitch six strong innings to pick up the victory.
Brooke George led the way at the plate for the Wildcats, smacking a two-run homer in the top of the fourth inning. Nichols scored three runs in the win.
Bowen said the game was what his team needed before the playoffs begin.
"It was a nice tune-up game for us," he said. "We wanted to get a game that was relatively close so we wouldn't have to travel, but also a good game that would show us some good looks."
He added that the Miners did just that, despite missing their star pitcher.
"We gave up two or three runs because of their good base running," he said. "But we had some good defense and some good pitching."
But, he said, hitting will be the team's focus in practice this week.
"We're going to have to score runs (in the playoffs)," he said. "There are some good teams down there and two or three runs isn't going to do it."
So South Summit will be trying to get some good at-bats in before Thursday.
"We're trying to get some real live pitching," Bowen said. "We're having some girls come in to pitch (including a now-recovered Chester), and our pitching coach gives them some good looks. We're really focusing on seeing good pitching and getting good at-bats."
South Summit (22-1 overall, 10-0 in Region 14) will take on Parowan in the first round of the 2A playoffs on Thursday at Spanish Fork. If the Wildcats win, they'll take on either Gunnison or Richfield, both of whom they've already beaten this season.
For Park City (10-19, 2-8 in Region 10), the season is over.