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Vikings solidify third-place position

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HIGHLAND — In a complete turnaround from the first time these two teams met this season, the Pleasant Grove Vikings took charge early and finished strong to defeat Lone Peak on the softball diamond 5-2 in Region 4 action.

The Vikings went from a shaky third-place position in region to a steady third place and a 4-4 record, but they still must play league No. 1 Spanish Fork and league No. 2 Lehi in their two remaining games.

"I think this was a big game to get for us to be where we want to be," said Pleasant Grove coach Kale Gillman, whose team's playoff positioning would have been questionable if the team had lost for a second time to Lone Peak. Instead, it's the Knights that find themselves in a hole and trying to dig out as they're now 2-6 in region.

"These kids are finally getting some confidence," said Gillman after his team finished with 10 hits, including three for extra bases.

On the other side of the ball, Pleasant Grove pitcher Angie Mikalauski gave up only four singles while striking out 10 in a complete-game effort. And she only got stronger: In the seventh inning she struck out two of the last three batters to finish off the victory.

"I'm telling you right now it was great pitching," Gillman said. "She got out of a couple of jams that were huge. She's a freshman, but you'd never know it. She's a competitor, and she knows she can get the job done."

Pleasant Grove gave itself a nice edge right off the bat with a pair of runs in the top of the first on singles by Cassie Warden, Whitney Giles and Torrey Best. Then they added a third run in the third with a walk by Warden, a single by Mikalauski and a wild pitch.

The Vikings started off the fourth with a triple by leadoff hitter Haley Engemann but couldn't bring her across the plate and left her stranded on third base. A double by Giles also didn't turn into any runs in the fifth, as Lone Peak's defense once again played tough to keep the runner from scoring.

The Vikings stranded eight in the game, including at least one in every inning.

Lone Peak finally got something working and tightened things up to 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth on two Pleasant Grove errors and a single by Bailie Hicken, but that was all they could put together.

Pleasant Grove padded its narrow lead in the top of the seventh as Warden walked again, Mikalauski and Giles each added a single and Best doubled down the first-base line for an RBI double.

"Whitney had a couple of key hits, and Torrey really came through. She stepped up and pulled through a couple of times for us today," said Gillman.

Giles finished with two singles and a double, and Best recorded a single and a double for the Vikings. Warden reached base three times on a pair of walks and a single.

E-mail: jolsen@desnews.com