TAYLORSVILLE — Except for the drastic change in temperature, the 2008 Taylorsville Warrior softball squad looked an awful lot like the same team that won the 5A state title last May.
The top-ranked team collected eight hits off second-ranked Bingham and made just one fielding error as they earned a 4-0 win in the season-opener for both teams.
"We just wanted to get this first game in and shake the rust off," said Taylorsville head coach Rich Kaelin. "It was nice to be able to get a game in outside before we leave for the tournament in Laughlin (Nevada) tomorrow."
The Warriors didn't look very rusty as they made double plays, threw runners out attempting to steal second-base and tagged out two runners on squeeze plays. Pitcher Heather Gardner earned the win and started, while Ashlee Moore took over throwing in the fifth inning. The offensive effort was led by Gardner's 2-for-2 performance, while seniors Marqi Gray and Cyd Allen each went 2-for-3. Gray and Allen shared time behind the plate, as Gray caught for Gardner and Allen caught for Moore.
Allen and Gray said they're not worried about sharing time as they're both just happy to be playing softball — outside.
"Either way, we're just trying to figure out what works," said Allen.
Gray said, "It was a good game. They're good and we had to be prepared. I'm just pumped and excited to be playing."
Both players and coaches understand the pressure of defending a title, but aren't too worried about that just yet.
"We're not even thinking state tournament right now," said Kaelin. "We're just going to try and work to get better every game."
This year is different for the Warriors, who have always had a competitive program.
"It is different having everybody back," said Kaelin. "But we have good leadership, and these kids are all friends ... We have a few holes in our batting line-up and a few new kids."
Both Allen and Gray said that they might have something to do with how much pressure they will or won't feel in the upcoming season.
"There is a big target on our backs," said Allen. "Unless we find team unity, I think that target is going to be pretty easy to hit."
Gray then added, "I don't really feel much pressure because nothing from last year really matters."
Kaelin said having six of his seven seniors already committed or signed with colleges also removes some of the pressure the players might normally feel.
"The team has voted Michon Vanderpoel and Tia Palauni captains and I think they're up to the challenge to lead this team," Kaelin said. The players, he said, are almost too laid back.
"They help each other out and we're just going to relax and have fun — not too much fun," Kaelin said. "We want to stay focused."