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High school softball: Fremont uses big fourth inning to defeat Farmington and get a leg up in Region 1 race

As the bottom of the fourth rolled around, Fremont caught fire, scoring six of its eight runs to separate itself from the Phoenix.

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Fremont’s Reata O’Neal , wearing blue, slides into home

Fremont’s Reata O’Neal slides into home for a run as Fremont and Farmington play on Tuesday, April 26, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Fremont Silverwolves came into their second matchup with Farmington knowing that they weren’t facing the same team they beat by five runs over 30 days ago. 

Since suffering the loss at the hands of the Silverwolves, the Phoenix had won six of their last seven games — allowing just eight runs in those six victories — and moved themselves into a tie with Fremont for the top spot in the Region 1 standings. 

But, by the same 8-3 scoreline as the first meeting, the Silverwolves once again managed to get the best of the Phoenix Tuesday afternoon at home to claim sole possession of first place in Region 1.

In a matchup between two of the state’s high-end pitchers, seniors Delaney Baker (Farmington) and Brinley Ellsworth (Fremont) had themselves a duel through the first half of the game, with each team managing only one run apiece through the first 3 ½ innings of the game.

But as the bottom of the fourth rolled around, Fremont caught fire, scoring six of its eight runs to separate itself from the Phoenix. 

Fremont head coach Mandy Koford said that patience was the key to her team’s scoring burst.

“I just kept saying, ‘Hang with them,’” Koford said. “The umpire had a very tight zone and for a pitcher like Delaney, who throws the way she throws, that’s tough. So I told them to just hang in there and that (Baker) was going to have to start bringing (her pitches) into the zone, and they capitalized on that.”

Sophomore Audrey Cooper got the ball rolling in the fourth with a two-run homer that Koford and Ellsworth said sparked the rest of Fremont’s hitters. 

“We knew that big hits were going to start coming, but I think after Audrey hit her home run, that energy carried over for us through the rest of the game,” Ellsworth said. 

After Cooper went yard, RBIs from Reata O’Neal and Brinley Johnson, coupled with a handful of defensive errors from Farmington, allowed the Silverwolves to open the floodgates and gain a lead that Ellsworth and the rest of the defense wouldn’t relinquish. 

Ellsworth was commanding in the circle for Fremont, tossing eight strikeouts — many of which ended Farmington bids to close the gap.

In the top of the sixth inning, Farmington’s Lexi Crowley drove a solo home run over the centerfield wall to make it 7-2 for the Silverwolves. Knowing that momentum was creeping toward the Phoenix, Ellsworth tossed two straight strikeouts to end the half-inning and shut the door on any potential comeback. 

“She’s tough,” Koford said of the senior pitcher. “What I like about Brinley (Ellsworth) is that she never acts like she’s a finished product.

“She’d come into the dugout between innings and she’d ask for help on certain pitches. She’s always looking to gain any edge or advantage that she can and that’s what makes her special.”

Johnson gave Fremont its eighth and final run of the contest with a solo home run of her own in the bottom of the sixth, and although Farmington managed to put another run on the board in the seventh (RBI single from Elle Mortensen), the Silverwolves got the three outs they needed to end the game with a five run advantage. 

Ellsworth said that she and her team knew coming into the game that Farmington had found its stride since the two sides last met and they expected a challenge.

“We for sure knew they were a good team,” Ellsworth said. “The last game wasn’t easy, so it was good that we kept our cool, didn’t get too high or too low, we were consistent with our energy.”

With the win, Fremont improved to 11-2 overall and 8-1 in region play. With three region games left to play, the Silverwolves hold a 0.5 game advantage over Weber, which improved its region record to 7-1 with a win over Davis on Tuesday. 

Weber dealt the Silverwolves their only region defeat of the season in a 7-0 victory back on April 14.

The two teams meet each other again on May 10, in what will be the final regular season game for both teams. Depending on how the teams perform until then, the game may end up becoming a pseudo Region 1 title game.

“We have goals and this win was stop No. 1 on the way to our goals,” Koford said. “I try to tell my kids that we’re not going to run away from (Weber). They’re in our players’ heads a little bit. … Bottom line, if we play the kind of ball we did today, there’s very few teams we’re not going to be able to hang with.”