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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton softball rearranging the pieces, but confident of peaking at the right time

May 03, 2023 09:41PM ● By Travis Barton

Mariyah Delgado will take her talents to Weber State next year, but for now, she's one of three crucial senior leaders for the Riverton softball team. 

By Travis Barton | [email protected]


While the pieces may change, two constants have remained for the Riverton High softball team: a talented squad and a coaching staff laser-focused on a relentless mindset. 

The Riverton Silverwolves captured another region title in May, albeit in a different fashion than the previous two years. 

Two years ago saw the team go undefeated in region en route to a state title. Last year the Silverwolves suffered one loss in region, but still went on to win a region and state title. 

This year the team dropped both games to region rival Herriman, finishing tied with Bingham for the best record in region, but held the tiebreaker beating Bingham in both games (including a walk-off grand slam by Kyli Carrell) earning them the region championship with an 8-2 record. 

But heading into state it’s not the rankings or the stats that matter to head coach Katelyn Elliott, nor even the losses to a certain extent, it’s the mindset of her players. Elliott doesn’t mind losing, but she does mind playing scared or “fearful and timid instead of all-out brawl-out.” 

“As a coaching staff, we’re not scared to lose,” she told the Journal after an 11-1 win over a resurgent West Jordan team. “I scheduled the best. I scheduled the best teams in the state knowing you could lose, we're playing a really good team, but I want you guys to get better and I want to play the best and I want to progress and I want to learn and I want to grow and we're just working on that.”

Developing that relentless mindset took on additional importance this season as the lineup had to retool. Three starters graduated last year, then two-year starter Lily Heitz tore her ACL playing for the basketball team before the season started. Then to top it off, starting center-fielder Tessa Hogue tore her ACL in practice midway through region. 

That means replacing five starting positions with mostly freshmen or sophomores. But the challenge, Elliott said, isn’t the skillset, it’s developing the confidence and the on-field chemistry. 

“It’s definitely a young team, but the talent is there,” she said. “They’re hitting the ball; they just need to trust it and believe it. If we can do that, they’re going to be unbeatable.”

Teaching that mental side usually comes through the preseason games in March, but with that month essentially postponed due to snow, it’s coming a little later in the season. 

“We’re making progression fast and rapid because it’s game, game, game, game and they’ll get there by state, it’s been fun to watch them grow,” Elliott said. 

One example Elliott pointed to was Peyton Sanchez. The freshman has split innings from the mound with Kyli Carrell and become a regular in the lineup, primarily due to her fearlessness. 

“She doesn’t even care who she’s going against, she’s just as dialed in and attacking,” Elliott said. “And she does the same thing at the plate…she just goes in and does her thing. That’s the mentality that I want. Your best team is going to be a team that’s just progressively getting better.”

The injuries also forced adjustments to the team’s defense. With Heitz’ injury forcing senior Kylee Ruesch to move from left field to second base and Hogue’s injury means a whole new outfield starting. It means girls learning new positions or working next to someone new which requires time for the group’s flow to click into place. 

Despite the roller coaster of a season in a grueling region, a few constants remain in leaders such as seniors Jolie Mayfield, Mariyah Delgado, Ruesch and junior Carrell. 

Mayfield, who not only leads the team in home runs but also holds state records in career home runs and grand slams, continues to shine from both the batter’s box and her crucial shortstop position. A monster at the plate and maybe even better from the field with a throwing release as quick as they come. For Elliott, it’s her leadership by example that stands out, whether it’s raking the field after practice or her body language during a game. 

“She’s just the best kid that you'd ever want to coach,” Elliott said. “Super coachable, never argues with you, a very smart, savvy player out there, and just wants to learn always.”

“She’s a phenomenal leader.”

Ruesch and Delgado have picked up where they left off last year, especially from the plate as the two help lead the team in hitting while Carrell hit a memorable walk-off grand slam and continues to improve in-game from the mound. 

All of them embody what Elliott wants in that relentlessness and constant pursuit of intelligent improvement. 

“If you continue to get better throughout the game, and that team doesn't get better, you win the game.” 

That was evident in several come-from-behind victories this season. The Silverwolves were down 10-4 against 5A champs Spanish Fork scoring seven runs in the final two innings to win 11-10. They were also losing 4-1 against Bingham only to score five runs in the sixth and seventh for a 6-4 victory. They also scored eight runs in the final three innings against Fremont to emerge with a 10-9 win. 

“As soon as they get that confidence, they’re going to take off,” said Elliott, who will exit the program after the season as she transitions to an administrator role in the district next year. 

Riverton will probably enter the 6A state tournament with a high seed, possibly No. 1, with their super regional set to start May 18 at home at 4 p.m.