WEST JORDAN — Breea Buckley wasn't exactly looking forward to her senior softball season.

"Last year was not so good," said the senior after helping West Jordan defeat Herriman 9-1 at home. "This year is totally different. I'm having fun. We didn't really do anything different. Headed in (to the season), I was like, 'Ugh, another high school season.' But then it started and I was like, 'This is totally different!' "

Nearly everything is the same as last season — including eight of the nine starters for the Jaguars.

"I really don't know," Buckley laughed. "Maybe just a year together under our belt. I think we're just a lot closer as a team."

Whatever the reason for the positive energy, the shift has meant a more productive offense.

"Our hitting has just been shining," Buckley.

Her coach said the team struggled early defensively, but has become more and more focused with each game.

"The big difference between this year and last is that our bats have woke up," said head coach Kody Bird. "We're hitting the ball well early — and that's good."

The Jaguars got the first run in Tuesday's game against the first-year program. Buckley scored on teammate Annie Oliver's single in the first inning.

Herriman answered in the top of the third when Elexis Shaw scored thanks to Riley Castro's double.

But after that, senior pitcher Bree Ordiway led an impressive Jaguar defense in keeping the Mustangs from scoring. She finished with six strikeouts in five innings of work.

Chelsie Bills hit a double for the Jaguars and also had an impressive defensive play at first base in the sixth inning. Second baseman Annie Oliver also had a nice stop for the first out of the same inning.

Bird and his players believe playing in a tough region will only help them realize their goal of finally making it deep in the 5A playoffs.

"We've had play-in games the last couple of years and weren't able to get over that hump," he said. "I think this is the year we finally get over it, and hopefully we do well once we get there."

As for why they're hitting so well, Buckley said that's as much a mystery to her as the change in the team's chemistry.

"I think we've all just been eating our Wheaties," she said, laughing.

Regardless, the team talks constantly about its goals this season.

"I think it's good," she said of the competition in Region 3. "We're going to have a run for it this year. There is no question."

email: adonaldson@desnews.com