HERRIMAN — It’s the first year the state will crown a 6A state softball champion, and the field is about as wide open as center field.
Not only is no team heading into Tuesday first-round playoff games undefeated, all of the ranked teams have significant losses to each other, unranked teams and smaller schools.
“I think it’s up for anyone,” said top-ranked Herriman head coach Heidi McKissick.
The Mustangs are Region 3’s top seed, and as such, will face Hunter on Tuesday at 4 p.m. on their home field. This week’s games are at home sites, while next week’s double elimination moves to the Valley Complex in Taylorsville.
Region 4’s top seed is Bingham, and the Miners will take on Davis High Tuesday.
Fourth-ranked Taylorsville is Region 3’s No. 2 seed, and the Warriors will host Granger Tuesday. The Warriors have some impressive victories, including wins over Herriman and Copper Hills.
One of the most interesting first-round matchups is that of Region 2 No. 2 Kearns and Region 3 No. 3 seed Copper Hills. The Grizzlies have some significant wins, including victories against Herriman and Bingham.
Cyprus is ranked No. 3, but as Region 2’s top seed, it hosts Riverton to start the tournament. It's the only 6A team to escape region play unscathed, but Cyprus has four losses in non-region play.
Pleasant Grove is ranked No. 2, and it is seeded second and will host Clearfield in another interesting first-round contest.
Region 1’s top seed, Syracuse, will host Westlake, and is unranked after losses to Ridgeline and Layton in the final weeks of region play.
McKissick said her team will rely on its offense as it heads into the playoffs, and that may be what most teams are counting on for postseason success.
“I definitely think it’s whoever can swing it and keep on putting pressure on the other team,” she said. “I feel like the other side of the bracket has more pressure than we did, but with that said, it’s time for us.”
The Mustangs are led by “the April Vissers, who are solid defensively and offensively have speed; we’re led by the Libby Parkinsons, who’ve been hitting and doing so great; and then there is Alexia Arredondo, our catcher, she’s really been stepping it up.”
The Mustangs, led by five seniors, are hungry for a title because they’ve been in the mix of top teams the last few years, and because they’d like to bring something joyful to their school and community. Seven student suicides since last summer have rocked the school, leading to a number of programs and interventions by administrators and parents.
“It’s been tough,” McKissick said. “We’ve just tried to dedicate this season to all of Herriman and our community. We’d like to bring some happiness. It’s been rough.” The school has adopted the slogan, “You matter,” and parents are working with administrators to help teens feel hopeful.
The PTA left cards and balloons on every car at the school in an effort to let students know they care about them.