Miners softball team defeats Ben Lomond 16-1
The Miners softball team is winning.
That in itself is news. The team hasn’t finished a season with a winning record in at least nine years. On Friday the Miners defeated Ben Lomond 16-1 by run rule in the fourth inning at home, bringing their overall record to 6-2, and their Region 11 record to 4-2.
The win made Wednesday a special day for the Miners. It brought them closer to a state playoff berth and give them their first home win.
Team captain and senior first baseman Annie Sheinberg said the home game was a breath of fresh air. She and her teammates have been working toward a positive record through her whole career as a Miner. Over the years it has struggled with the chicken-and-egg problem of its poor record discouraging would-be players from joining. Last season, the Miners started to gain traction, earning a record of 7-15 overall, 4-9 in region. This season, with many of its starters returning and an influx of move-in talent, including pitcher Diana Boyce who played the entirety of Wednesday’s game, is proving to be another step out of that desperate predicament.
“My freshmen year we didn’t have any wins on the board as of the previous two years,” Sheinberg said. “So since then we’ve gotten more and more wins every year. This year we felt pretty confident in our new region and with the new players and new teams. This was awesome. New pitcher, new everything.”
The Miners jumped out to an early lead on Friday, going up 5-0 in the first inning, then kept the defense tight and the bats hot through the game, outscoring Ben Lomond 3-1 in the second through an in-field three-run homer by junior Ari Clevenger, 6-0 in the third with another infield home run for three by senior Amanda Reily, and 2-0 in the fourth with Clevenger stealing the last run to force the mercy rule.
During the game, the team broke into elaborate cheers.
“We need a hit! Gotta have a hit! We want a hit! Gotta have a hit!” They chanted, rocking back and forth in the dugout as they cruised to victory.
“This is my third year and, we’ve never even come close to how we are playing this year,” Clevenger said after the game.
Two more wins would secure that wildly elusive playoff berth that the team has sought in vain since at least 2011 (records are spotty).
In a cruel twist of fate, if the Miners make it, they would have to choose between going to prom and playing for a title.
Coach Shannon Gebbia said her team is certainly not happy about the double-booking. She said the seniors are in a particularly tough position – they won’t see another prom, but they’re also the ones who have worked the hardest to change the team for the better.
“We might go down and play a No. 1 seed and get our butts beat,” Gebbia said. “But the work they have put in to elevate this program and make it to state this year, if we make it, all comes from them.”
Clevenger said there was no doubt among the team.
“It’s worth it,” she said. “We’ve never even made it close to state. If it comes to it, we are going to prioritize softball – all the juniors and seniors, we’ve already decided.”
The team sees a shot at state as an opportunity to prove themselves and to show that their hard work is paying off, which they hope in turn will draw more athletes to the team.
“I know the reason a bunch of girls haven’t come to the team in the past is because we haven’t done well and they know about the loss streaks,” Clevenger said. “But with how we’re doing I think more girls are going to want to join.”
Gebbia said “everyone” talks about the team’s record, but it belies the groundwork the former teams have put in.
“You can look at our loss record in the past, especially 21-0, 27-0 in three innings, and think that we don’t play and that it’s horrible and it’s no fun,” she said. “But once you come out and watch a game and you can see that we compete as best as we can, and we earn respect from those teams … by playing hard and never giving up and giving 100 percent. That’s what I hope people are seeing along with the wins.”
But the winning is undeniably a bonus. Gebbia said she is extremely happy with how the team is playing.
“When our post-games are about 5 minutes long … ‘really good work, here’s what we need to work on, I’ll see you on Monday,’ that’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s good to see that they have put in the work and it’s finally paying off. Everything seems to be falling in place and I hope it continues.”
The Miners played Ogden for the first time this season on Tuesday, and are scheduled to play Bonneville on Thursday, who the Miners lost to 21-0 away in their opening game.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.