It was impossible for Springville senior pitcher Mckenna Thomas to ignore that her Red Devil squad hadn’t played its best early in Thursday’s Region 8 game at Salem Hills.
The Skyhawks had capitalized on two Springville errors to plate the first run of the game, then had somehow managed to keep the Red Devils scoreless even though Springville had loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second.
Thomas walked out to the circle, knowing she couldn’t afford to let the dangerous Salem Hills batting order get any more momentum. Her focus was on getting her job done.
“I was just trying to hit my spots,” Thomas said. “I trust my defense, so I didn’t worry.”
Thomas tallied a pair of strikeouts as part of a 1-2-3 inning, then got to enjoy participating in the Red Devil hit parade that got rolling in the third.
Springville pounded out nine hits and scored 10 runs in the frame, allowing the visitors to secure the 11-1 victory in five innings.
“We didn’t start too well,” Red Devil head coach Jill Thackeray said. “We said coming in that we needed to put the ball in play and not make defensive mistakes. We had some lapses but we responded well.”
She said she was pleased to see the resiliency from her athletes, since there have been times this season where they haven’t bounced back from early miscues.
“We were down 3-0 to Payson and to Wasatch this year,” Thackeray said. “We chipped away and came back against the Wasps, but didn’t against the Lions. I was proud of how we responded today.”
Thomas said the key for the Red Devils in those situations is to keep things in perspective.
“You have to let go of mistakes,” Thomas said. “It can be frustrating sometimes, but you’ve got seven innings in a game. There is plenty of time to turn things around.”
Thomas and the Springville defense did that well after the first inning mistakes, not allowing Salem Hills to get any more runs.
“Mckenna pitched well and when we play good defense, we can be a pretty tough team to beat,” Thackeray said.
It didn’t hurt to have the offensive explosion either, of course.
The Red Devils used a pair of three-run home runs — one from right fielder Whitney Shepherd and one from shortstop Avery Nelson — to score the majority of the runs in the third, although centerfielder Keelie Cheff also drove in a pair of runs while Thomas and second baseman Saige Ewing tacked on RBI singles.
“It’s awesome when you can keep it going and go through the entire lineup,” Thomas said. “It’s so fun.”
Salem Hills head coach Kalab Stokes felt like there were a couple of moments in that frame where his squad wasn’t able to make key plays, which allowed Springville to keep rolling.
“We started the game with effort and intensity but with those mistakes, things got away from us,” Stokes said. “When you give a team like Springville extra at-bats, they make you pay.”
Both coaches have seen ups and downs from their teams this season but are hopeful they can put all the pieces together down the stretch.
“The key for us is consistency,” Thackeray said. “We see glimpses of what we can do and we feed off of good plays. We just need consistency, confidence and execution.”
Stokes wants to see his young squad lock in against good pitchers and make good contact.
“We have good hitters but we need to do better when we face good pitching,” he said. “If we can do that, it will help us a lot when state rolls around.”
Springville (15-5, 8-2) next plays at Park City on April 27 while Salem Hills (11-8, 5-5) faces a huge test when it plays at league-leading Spanish Fork on the same afternoon.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.