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South Valley Journal

Riverton clinches share of region title with comprehensive victory over Bingham

Apr 29, 2022 01:32AM ● By Travis Barton

Head coach Katelyn Elliott talks to her team after Riverton’s thorough 11-1 win over the Miners. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

 

The nerves were there to start with.

A packed stand with Riverton students, an emotion-filled rivalry matchup and a pivotal game for the region championship between perhaps the two best softball teams in 6A over the last two seasons.

But the Riverton Silverwolves overcame an early scare in the top of the first to down Bingham 11-1, completing the 10-run victory in the sixth inning.

“It feels really good,” senior Lexi Shaver said of the rare 10-run win over a perennial power in Bingham. “Going into the game we can’t just expect to win because they’re competitive, they’re a good team so if they’re on it, it can be a close, tight game so we don’t know what to expect.”

And the matchup started out tight.

Bingham jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first after a walk and then a triple down the third-base line from Braxtyn Hunter. Two more walks from Riverton’s ace Kaysen Korth set up a two outs, bases loaded situation and a visit to the mound from head coach Katelyn Elliott.

Elliott said Korth wasn’t getting the strikes she normally gets, so they had to adjust their strategy to fit the umpire’s strike zone.

“Instead of hitting our head against the wall of ‘why isn't he giving me that call,’ let's find a way to beat the situation,” she said, it’s something they’ve focused on the last few weeks. “Anytime a scenario’s not going your way, find a way to attack it and figure it out.”  

Korth said the chat was also a chance for them to regroup and shift the tide back in their favor.  

“Intensity wise, Bingham’s always insane with it so I think what we really focused on was, ‘OK they brought it, now we have to take away their momentum,’” she said.

The next at-bat saw her and Shyann Banansky do battle for 11 pitches before Korth was able to escape the inning with a strikeout.

“She’s fierce,” Elliott said of Korth. “It’s really hard to get her rattled. It’s not easy, she makes it look easy, but it’s not and she works a lot on that.”

Riverton then responded immediately in the bottom of the first with a solo shot from Shaver to tie the game. After several pitches from Bingham’s Shelbee Jones worked the outside of the plate, Shaver got caught swinging on a rise ball. She said she knew what to expect next, aiming to hit it hard on the ground. Only she caught it much sweeter than planned sending it to deep right-center.

“I mean I love the home run,” Elliott said. “But I love that Lexi went in and was letting the balls go and patiently aggressive all night, she didn't let the emotions and hype of the game get to her…she was calm, cool, collected and attacked the zone when it came in there.”

Shaver almost followed suit in her second at-bat with a deep shot to right field that was deemed a foul ball. But the senior then walked (for the first of three times on the night) and would eventually score the go-ahead run on a double from Jolie Mayfield.  

After the early scare in the first inning, Korth didn’t allow another hit until the sixth. She struck out the side in the third, ending up with 10 total for the game.

When Bingham did get the ball in play, the Silverwolves defense was up to the task. Whether it was Shaver snagging a drive at third or, in perhaps the play of the game, right-fielder Chloe Woods making a diving catch on a bloop down the first-base line.

“Incredible,” Elliott said of the catch. “When you have as good a pitcher as Kaysen, anytime a team can hit (off) her that’s gonna be a big momentum thing for her. So when Chloe makes a diving catch like that and takes away a hit, that's huge. That's huge for Kaysen, huge for our team and that's huge to kill any momentum that they can start to accrue.”

Having that trust in her teammates makes it easier for Korth to do her part. “Chloe could easily have gotten that on the hop, but she gave her all and that’s how it’s been this whole season.”

Ironically the team recently had a practice focused on just the outfield that got the everyone excited, Shaver said.

“That’s what made it even more special because you see how hard she’s working,” Shaver said.

As for the Riverton offense, the bats continued to heat up as the game went along. Maryiah Delgado hit a solo shot in the fourth to make it 3-1, before aggressive baserunning from Tessa Hogue earned another run in the fifth. Mayfield then extended the lead with a two-run homer to dead center giving them a 6-1 lead heading into the sixth.

While Shaver had the homer, three walks and scored three runs, Korth finished with three hits and two RBIs and cleanup hitter Mayfield had two hits and three RBIs as the Silverwolves ended the game with 12 hits. That included a bunt single by Woods in the sixth to start a five-run inning to clinch the victory, punctuated by a Korth triple.

Mayfield’s hits added to what has been a monstrous season for the junior making it 13 home runs on the year and 45 RBIs. The shortstop had a rare hiccup with a dropped fly ball in the second inning (only her second error on the year) but responded with three RBIs in her next two at-bats.

“That would be an easy time to come unraveled,” Elliott said. “But she plugged in with her teammates, talking a double play with her second baseman. She was moving onto the next play and that allowed her mentally to step in and succeed at the plate because she didn't check out. 

“It's maturity too, she's done that since she was a freshman.”

Though the Miners had a few fielding errors that contributed to the loss, the Silverwolves seemed to get stronger as the innings went by. Elliott attributes that to the girls being “students of the game,” watching the players ahead of them in the lineup, paying attention to the pitcher and the umpire’s strike zone then making adjustments.

“That’s what we’re seeing and that’s exactly what we’ve been teaching them is to keep learning from the game and keep getting better from the game, in the game,” she said.

That includes feedback from the players themselves.

“We’re feeding off our last at-bats and using it to our advantage to know what's coming,” Shaver said.

The atmosphere of the game also amplified the intensity with a large portion of the Riverton football team filling the stands.

“It was awesome,” Elliott said, crediting football coach Mike Morgan with helping create a culture of different teams coming out to support each other. The football team even joined the girls on the field for a postgame cheer.

“It’s the culture here at Riverton really changing and a lot of that’s due to him, he’s awesome,” Elliott said

With the win, the Silverwolves moved to 19-1 and are currently ranked ninth in the nation. Korth said the girls can enjoy it and appreciate the recognition it brings, but know they can’t get “complacent.”

“It’s almost like a target on our backs,” Shaver added. “Everybody wants to beat us even more so we have to really keep working.”

Riverton has one region game remaining, a matchup this Tuesday with Copper Hills. A victory would clinch the region title outright for the second-consecutive year. It also has two nonregion games left against second-ranked Skyridge and Wasatch.

Elliott said she wants to see the girls gear up for state by improving their execution on what they’re already doing.

For Korth and Shaver, they want each girl to leave a legacy. For example, Korth said they’ll remember Mayfield more for her leadership rather than her home runs, and Shaver pointed out their “dugout’s insane” with their cheering and how much they help.

Shaver summed it up: “Everyone makes a mark on the team.”