BEAR RIVER HIGH - By Tate Atkin, Headliner Sports Editor, May 28, 2022
As defending 4A state champions, the Bear River High softball team entered the 2022 4A state tournament heavy favorites to win the tournament and once again be crowned state champions. With a regular season record of 25-3 and a Region 11 championship, the Lady Bears locked up the number one seed and a first-round bye, giving them a few extra days to rest and prepare for the upcoming battles.
This year's 4A state softball tournament was held in St. George and first up for Bear River was the Cedar City High Red Wolves on May 18, this after Cedar had upset Sky View High in the first round. The Red Wolves came out poised for an even larger upset, this time of the number one seeded Bears.
In the first inning, Cedar scored three quick runs and had the Bears' attention. Bear River answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning, keeping the contest from getting out of hand early. The Bears added three more runs in the third inning and another in the fifth. They shut-out Cedar for the rest of the game and came away with a 6-3 victory.
Senior Zoe Sorensen led the way on offense for the Bears, going 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Senior McCall Maxfield made the most of her plate appearance going 1-for-1 with a three-run home run. Junior Kate Dahle got the win from the pitcher's circle allowing just one hit and striking out nine.
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Following that win, the Bears advanced to the next round of competition against the Hurricane High Tigers, the game also being played May 18. It was a quick turnaround but that didn't seem to be an issue as the Bears overwhelmed the Tigers scoring six runs in the fifth inning before eventually defeating Hurricane, 8-1.
Sorensen continued to dominate at the plate this time going 2-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base. Senior Kynlei Nelson was all over the stat sheet as she went 2-for-4, including a double and two runs scored. Maxfield again homered on a deep fly ball to left field in the fifth inning with two runners on base. Senior Jordyn Warren hit a two-run home run, also in the fifth inning. Again, it was Dahle getting the win as she pitched seven innings allowing just one hit and one run while striking out 11.
Next up on May 19, Bear River took on Snow Canyon High in the tournament semifinals. The Bears got out to an early 2-0 lead after the first inning. Snow Canyon answered with a run in the third and three runs in the fifth. The Bears scored twice in the fourth and once in the fifth on a Maxwell solo home run. It was a close battle throughout, but the Bears escaped with the win by a final score of 5-4.
Dahle again led the Bear's defense from the pitcher's circle getting the win while striking out eight. Sorensen went 2-for-4 from the plate with two RBI and a run coming off a home run in the first inning to lead the Bears offensively.
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With the win against Snow Canyon, the Bears advanced to the best of three finals on May 20, where they would meet their long-time Region 11 foe Ridgeline High, a team the Bears had already defeated twice on the season. Only this time around the Riverhawks were out for blood.
The first game was a tough defensive battle from start to finish. Both teams mustered up a run in the fourth inning while the Bears scored one more in the fifth. With the score 2-1 in favor of the Bears heading into the seventh inning, three outs would seal the deal for the defending state champs and give them the first win of the series. The Riverhawks however put together a surge on offense and scored two runs in the seventh that Bear River was unable to answer and lost to Ridgeline, 3-2.
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After a tough blow for the Bears, the two teams turned around and played again on Saturday, May 21. A win for the Bears would extend their season and force a third game, a loss however would end their season. With so much riding on the game, Bear River struggled with the pressure at the start of the game.
Bear River gave up three runs to Ridgeline in the first inning and quickly found themselves trailing behind the Riverhawks. After five scoreless innings, the Bears finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the 6th inning when Nelson singled on a ground ball to 3rd base. Maxfield followed that up with double and the Bears scored two runs narrowing the gap and rallying from behind to make it a thrilling finish in the final inning.
But Ridgeline had plans of their own and came back with a vengeance.
Up 3-2, the Riverhawks' bats were on fire in the top of the seventh inning with a series of base hits that triggered fielding errors on the Bears' side. The efforts to score in the previous inning seemed to have exhausted the Bears as they gave up five runs to the Riverhawks.
That was the final blow, and the Bears were unable to catch up on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh inning losing to Ridgeline 8-2 and handing the Riverhawks the state championship title.
The Bears ended the 2022 season in second place in 4A while finishing the high school softball careers for five graduating seniors: Haylee "Bob" Farnsworth, Kinley Toone, Jordyn Warren, Kynlei Nelson, McCall Maxfield, Zoe Sorensen, Carlee Miller and Jandie Hirschi.
Bear River High vs. Ridgeline High, May 20, 2022 - Photos by John Fronk
Bear River vs. Snow Canyon, May 19, 2022 - Photos by John Fronk
Bear River vs. Cedar, May 18, 2022 - Photos by John Fronk