Bingham is one win away from its first softball state championship in 13 years, and the combination of dominant pitching and manufacturing runs is why the Miners are in the optimal position.
Shelbee Jones and Brecka Larson combined on a two-hitter, and then at the plate Bingham scored on an error, ground out and misplayed ball in the outfield as the Miners beat region foe Herriman 3-0 in Game 1 of the 6A state championship series at BYU.
It was the eighth straight win for Bingham over Herriman, and it will try and make it No. 9 in Game 2 on Friday at 11 a.m. as it looks to close out the series and end the decade-plus title drought.
“The kids just seemed very under control. They came down on the bus enjoying the same way we went up earlier this week, just enjoying have fun,” said Bingham coach Mikki Jackson, who is looking to claim her eighth coaching state title.
Bingham capitalized on six Herriman errors, one of which was a groundball in the third inning that allowed Oakley Clark to score after she reached on an error in the outfield.
Bingham then added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh, neither on a hit. That ability to generate runs without the big hit was key.
“Even if you’re not able to get those big hits that we may need sometimes, just taking advantage of those little errors can make a big difference. Not only does it take advantage of the team, and maybe messes with them a bit, but it also helps us score the runs,” said Jones, who earned the win by striking out three on her birthday.
She started and pitched the first three innings, with sophomore Brecka Larson taking over in the bottom of the fourth. Larson retired every batter she faced with four strikeouts to lead the Miners to the Game 1 win.
Larson said her rise ball in particular was working on Thursday.
The day before in Bingham’s win over Riverton to reach the championship, Larson started and finished the game, with Jones pitching the middle four innings.
“We call each other the duo, we support each other in everything we do,” said Larson.
Jones has loved not having to throw all the pitches this season, and it’s a big reason why Bingham is one win away from the title.
“I love having Brecka as someone to back me up, I didn’t have much backup last year, so it’s really nice to know that someone as my back this year. When she steps on the mound I have all the faith in the world in her and I’ve always go her back. It’s way fun, I’m so happy to be partnered with her,” said Jones.
Bingham had chances in the second and third inning to blow the game open, but it left the bases loaded twice as Kiaira Smith pitched out of both jams.
Bingham’s Larson helped her own cause at the plate going 2 for 4 with a run scored.
In Game 2 on Friday, Jackson said her players need to be just as focused as they were today.
“The kids just have to stay under control and fight even harder. They are an amazing team, they’re a competitor, they’re going to come out fighting and our kids have to be ready to match and beat the fight,” said Jackson.
She said that applies to everyone wearing the Bingham uniform.
“Everybody contributing from the bench to the kids on the field, everyone trying to do the best to fill a role that’s significant, and doing a great job of it,” said Jackson. “They’re fighting, and they’re fighting for each other, and they’re fighting for their school and they’re fighting for their goal. They said it on Day 1 they wanted to be champions.”