by Tad Barton
The softball season was extended to its limit for the San Juan Broncos as they fought to the very end in the 2A state championship game.
After enduring a two-day rain delay that sent the championship games to Monday, May 11, the Broncos could not retain their momentum and fell to the top-ranked South Summit Wildcats at the state tournament site in Spanish Fork.
The Broncos raced to the top of the heap with wins in the first four games of the tournament, including a semifinal win over South Summit.
The hitting and pitching of Tatiana Su’eSu’e carried the Broncos to the wins. Su’eSu’e was nearly unhittable from the pitchers mound and she was devastating at the plate while extending her state record homerun record.
However, after the rain delay extended the road trip by two days, it was South Summit that claimed the momentum. With two wins over the Broncos, it was the Wildcats that took home the first place trophy.
The San Juan Bronco softball team started down the final stretch of their season on Thursday, May 7 as they traveled to Spanish Fork to compete in the 2A State Softball Playoffs.
The Broncos won their first four games of the tournament and advanced to the championship game on Saturday, May 9, before Mother Nature dowsed the tournament with a spring rain storm just minutes before San Juan was set to play South Summit in the Championship game. On their way to the finals the Broncos notched wins against Millard and Summit Academy on the first day of the tournament before defeating Manti and South Summit on day two.
In the first game, San Juan dispatched Millard 11-1, with a ten-run rule on the Eagles in six innings. Tatiana Su’eSu’e picked up the win in the circle for the Broncos, striking out seven while surrendering one run on four hits.
Jade Palmer, Leilani Begay and Lori Begay all went two for two at the plate while the latter two each recorded a double and combined for three RBIs (Leilani 2 RBIs, Lori 1 RBI.)
For game two on Thursday, the Broncos faced the Bears of Summit Academy. San Juan took a while to get warmed up as they entered the bottom of the fourth inning in a 0-0 tie before they got things rolling.
The Broncos would record two runs in the bottom of the fourth and four more runs in the fifth to take command of the game and a 6-0 lead into the sixth inning.
The Bears would push one run across the dish in the top of the seventh, but it was too little too late as San Juan claimed win number two 6-1.
Su’eSu’e again went the distance for the Broncos and picked up her 15th win of the season. Offensively Bailee Bowers was a force at the plate going 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs. Su’eSu’e added another homerun to her resume giving her 36 for her career.
Day two of the tournament found the Broncos pitted against the Manti Templars, the team which defeated the Broncos in last year’s championship round. After jumping out to a 1-0 lead after the first inning, San Juan found themselves down 2-1 after the second.
The Templars would add another run in the top of the sixth, but the Broncos would match that run in the bottom of the inning to keep within a run heading into the seventh and final inning.
San Juan then held Manti scoreless in the top of the seventh before scoring two runs of their own to claim the 4-3 victory over the defending champs.
In the circle, Su’eSu’e notched yet another win for San Juan, pitching all seven innings, striking out three batters and giving up one earned run on five hits. The senior pitcher also led the Broncos in the batter’s box going 1 for 2 with a homerun and RBI. The homerun pushed her career total to 37.
The second game on day two, the Broncos squared off with the top ranked 2A team, the South Summit Wildcats. San Juan and South Summit last played on April 11, a contest won by the Wildcats 7-1.
After both teams scored a run in the first inning, the Wildcats took a two run lead into the bottom of the fourth after scoring a run in the third and another in the fourth.
In the bottom of the fourth, with two runners on, junior Mary Royer stepped into the batter’s box and drove the ball over the right field fence.
The homerun was Royer’s second of the season and couldn’t come at a better time for San Juan.
Su’eSu’e would add one more run to San Juan’s total in the bottom of the fifth on a solo homerun, her second of the game bringing the total to 39.
On her way to win number 17 on the season Su’eSu’e struck out four batters again giving up just one earned run.
Royer had a big day at the plate with her three run shot in the fourth. Su’eSu’e went 2 for 3 with two solo homeruns and Jessica Swenson also went 2 for 3 with a double in the win for the Broncos.
After an unexpected two-day delay, San Juan played South Summit after the Wildcats battled back through the one-loss bracket for the right to take on the Broncos.
The Wildcats were the first team to touch Su’eSu’e as they scored 12 runs and earned a 12-5 win. Su’eSu’e hit another home run in the game before the Wildcats decided enough was enough and gave Su’eSu’e intentional walks through the remainder of the tournament.
This set up a winner take all game as both teams had one loss in the double-elimination tourney.
The Broncos sent pitcher Jessica Swenson to the plate in the final game. The Wildcat bats were able to build a lead while the Broncos were unable to advance runners. By the fifth inning, South Summit had built a 6-0 lead.
In the sixth inning, the Broncos put on their rally caps and fought back to make it a game. Su’eSu’e scored a run to cut the lead to 6-1, but with two runners on base, the rally fell short.