Wildcats win 2A softball state title
May 12, 2015
The South Summit High School softball team faced a daunting task on Monday afternoon in Spanish Fork.
After losing to San Juan in the 2A playoffs on Friday, the Wildcats came across the Broncos again on Monday, needing to win two straight against a tough foe to earn the state championship.
Donning pink jerseys in support of Melanie Bowen, wife of South Summit Coach Cody Bowen, who is battling breast cancer, the Wildcats came out and won the first game 12-5. South Summit’s bats came alive early and often, with Elise Bush, Hannah Peterson, Thailer James and McKaye Woolstenhulme all hitting home runs in the victory.
Meanwhile, Peterson and Natalie Nichols combined for the win on the mound, holding a potent San Juan offense to just five runs.
In the second game, which was a winner-take-all affair, Peterson went head-to-head with the Broncos’ Jessica Swenson. Through three innings, neither team had scored. That changed in the fourth inning, when Peterson led off with a solo home run. The Wildcats got three runs that inning and added three more in the fifth. The Broncos scored once in the sixth, but were unable to catch up to the Wildcats, who earned a 6-1 victory and their first-ever softball state championship.
"We came today with the positive attitude that we were playing two games," Peterson said.
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Bowen said the Wildcats’ resilience showed in a big way with how they handled the adversity of the first loss to San Juan and the shifting schedule that postponed the championship games from Saturday to Monday.
"I’ve been trying to teach them that, you know what, hard things come in life and sometimes it’s not the easy way or the preferred way," he said. "But this was a beautiful way to come and I give them credit."
Nichols, one of South Summit’s eight seniors, said going out on top is a dream come true.
"A lot of us have been playing together since we were in sixth grade," she said. "We’ve always dreamt of taking state. It’s awesome to do it as a senior, too — going out with a bang."
Bowen said it’s great as a coach having two outstanding leaders like Nichols and Peterson, the latter of whom was nearly un-hittable on the mound Monday.
"She’s been a warrior," he said. "I was asking her how many innings she had in her today and I think she ended up pitching 11 and she still looks strong. I think she could have gone a few more. She’s been our leader on the mound and at the plate all year. She’s incredible."
Bowen also credited Bush for having a fantastic run during the state playoffs.
"She’s got unbelievable power, as much as I’ve ever seen at our school," he said. "She’s deadly. She’s been good all year, especially down the stretch — she had four or five home runs this tournament."
Winning the tournament while wearing the pink jerseys in support of the Bowen family was a special moment that wasn’t lost on the South Summit players.
"The biggest thing is that we played this year for him and for her," Peterson said. "Our motto this whole time was ‘Win the fight,’ and that’s for her."
"Pink’s been lucky for us," Bowen said. "[Melanie] is doing well, doing chemo right now. We’re hoping the chemo is working and we’ll fight on."
Bowen added that winning the state title is an experience the Wildcats will never forget and that he’s honored to have been a part of it.
"It’s something that just never goes away," he said. "They’ll look back at 2015 — we all will — with unbelievable happiness. It’s a legacy they’ve set for a lot of teams in the future."
Celebrating with the trophy alongside a stadium full of South Summit fans who made the drive to Spanish Fork made the moment even better, Bowen said.
"I think it’s a community effort," he said. "They’ve been a big part in helping us bring this home."
South Summit finished the season with an overall record of 27-6. The only game the Wildcats lost against a 2A opponent was Friday’s playoff matchup with San Juan, which they dropped 5-3 before coming back to defeat the Broncos twice on Monday afternoon.