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ST. GEORGE — The Manti Templars season softball record moved up to 16-13 Saturday afternoon at the Canyons Softball Complex.
That in itself would usually warrant no more than a passing mention, but that 16th victory, a 5-2 decision over top-ranked San Juan, earned Manti its third state 2A softball title in the last six seasons.
Starting pitcher Kali Thomson's three-run blast down the left field line in the top of the sixth broke open a 2-2 game, and fellow sophomore Lizzy Palmer pitched the final two innings for the save.
Palmer started the game at third base, where her glove work was good for at least an unofficial save, first leaping high in the air to snag what was sure to be a run-scoring single off the bat of San Juan standout Tatiana Su'e Su'e, then later gloving a sharp grounder and racing to her base just ahead of Justin Hutchings. Not getting the out in that situation would have loaded the bases with one out for the Broncos.
Not to be outdone by sophomores, San Juan's Su'e Su'e, just a freshman, allowed just six hits and hit the ball hard all day. Besides her first inning shot that was gloved by Palmer, she blasted a line drive that quickly cleared the fence to tie the game in the bottom of the third inning and ripped a double to open the sixth.
Thomson, who allowed four hits and struck out three while in the circle, hit just one home run during the regular season but added three more during the state tournament.
"I dreamed about (hitting a home run). I thought when I went to the plate (in the top of the sixth) this would be the perfect time. I thought I hit it hard enough, I was just hoping it wouldn't go foul."
Palmer admitted to being a little nervous when she took the pitchers' rubber in the sixth.
"I was a little nervous when I got in the game, especially with the top of their order up, but my team helped me on defense."
A good defensive play by Thomson, who switched places with Palmer, helped Palmer get out of the sixth inning. Palmer finished with a 1-2-3 seventh, which included a pair of strikeouts.
"I always want to play our kids up against higher classification teams," Manti head coach Susan Hatch said immediately after an ice-water victory dousing. "I knew we would have some challenges because we lost seven seniors from last season. We had a lot of sophomores that had to step in and they did.
"I hoped we would come together and be presentable when we got to state, and not be intimidated early against some of those big schools, and they weren't," Hatch added.
Senior second baseman Ali Rosquist added a single and a double for the victors.