Box score

When top-ranked Ridgeline first arrived at BYU’s softball stadium for Game 1 of Friday’s 4A state championship series, there was certainly a moment of ‘awe’ from the players.

“We walked into this field and it was kind of a “Hoosiers” moment. This is bigger than what we play in, so for a minute we had to talk about ‘Hey, inside the lines it’s all the same distance, everything is the same,’” said Ridgeline coach Michael Anderson.

Once the game started though, the nerves had calmed for Ridgeline, which made all the difference in a tight 3-2 win over second-seed Bear River.

Game 2 of the best-of-3 series is slated for Saturday at 5 p.m., with Game 3 immediately following if necessary.

Between sweeping Bear River in last year’s 4A championship and then winning both region games this season, Ridgeline has now won five straight against its region foes.

Anderson said that fact is irrelevant heading into the final day of the season.

“It’s not over. Tomorrow we’ve got to go hard at them again. We know who they are. They could come and win two games tomorrow. We need to bring our best game both times. Let’s get it in the first,” said Anderson.

Adisyn Hansen was the unlikeliest hero for Ridgeline on Friday. Her inside the park home run in the bottom of the fifth inning broke open a 2-2 game, and the Riverhawks pitching took care of the rest.

It was the first home run of the season for Hansen, and the 11th different player who’s hit a home run for Ridgeline.

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“She’s struggled with No. 9 (pitcher) a little bit in the past. I’m as proud of her today as I’ve been because of the pressure that was on her in that situation,” said Anderson.

Hansen pulled the 1-2 to pitch straight up the third base line, with the ball taking a slight deflection off the third baseman’s mitt to push it all the way to foul territory in the left field corner.

That area is much larger than on a high school field, and that allowed Hansen to come all the way around home with relative ease.

Bear River got singles in both the sixth and seventh innings to get runners on base, but Ridgeline relief pitcher Addison Hess got big outs when she needed to preserve the 3-2 win.

Shelby Blankenship got the start for Ridgeline, and despite multiple base runners in three of the first four innings, never allowed the big hit to keep the shutout going.

“Shelby came in and set the tone as a pitcher, and when your pitcher does that I think it changes the game and that actually takes away the nerves,” said Anderson.

Bear River started to hit her hard, however, in the top of the fifth. One out after a leadoff walk by Kaya Towne, Bella Douglas smashed a single to right field.

Even though Towne was thrown out trying to advance to third, Bear River got back-to-back RBI doubles by Kate Dahle and Baylee Sorensen to tie the game at 2-2.

Hess came on in relief to get the last out of the fifth with a runner in scoring position. Before she took the mound, Anderson reminded her it was a similar spot to when she entered against Box Elder earlier this season.

In that game she came on with two runners on and one out in a one-run game and got out of the jam.

On Friday, she forced a pop out at second to keep the 3-2 lead heading into the final two innings.

Offensively, Ridgeline set the tone early with its speed on the base paths. In the first inning, Hansen reached base on a bunt single, and after stealing second scored on a bloop single that glanced off the shortstop’s glove.

Hansen then scored on an RBI single from Abbie Banning to give Ridgeline the 2-0 lead, which it maintained until the fifth inning.

After Banning’s single in the first, Bear River pitcher Dahle only allowed two more hits the rest of the game — one of which was the inside the park home run.

Ridgeline record-breaking home run hitter Anne Wallace went 0 for 3 in the leadoff spot, which Anderson said is a credit to his players that they were still able to get production throughout the lineup and generate enough runs to beat Dahle.

“We feel like if we can put the ball in play and limit our strikeouts then we’ve got a chance to do things. She’s a good pitcher. We just have to put the ball in play,” said Anderson.

If Ridgeline can do that in Game 2 on Saturday, it will have a good chance of repeating as 4A state champs.