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TAYLORSVILLE — As Libby Parkinson took the circle in the seventh inning, she looked over to fellow senior Sydnee Hoffman at third base. Suddenly, all the memories of playing at Herriman started flashing through her mind.
Not being able to bat the ball out of the infield as a freshman, winning a state championship as a junior and everything in between. She can now add what happened Thursday and the days (actually weeks) leading up to it the memory bank.
Parkinson hit a two-run home run and pitched a complete game to lead Herriman to a 9-3 win over Layton in the 6A state championship game at Salt Lake Community College. It was the second straight title for the Mustangs.
But this title run was filled with some trials.
There were seemingly never-ending rain delays. There was the 3 1/2 hour extra-inning game in the quarterfinals against Kearns where the Mustangs scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth for the win. There was Wednesday’s semifinal where they overcame a five-run deficit in the sixth inning to rally for the win.
“Every game was a comeback,” Herriman coach Heidi McKissick said.
Every game except the championship, that is.
In the third inning, Parkison swung and hit the ball off her knee cap. She immediately hopped and limped down the first base path, looking like she was in some discomfort. But after a very short delay, she got back into the batter’s box.
“I was like, ‘Well, you were a little ahead of that one,’ Parkinson recalled thinking. “‘Just wait on it, don’t hit this one into your knee cap, hit it into the scoreboard.' Just kidding.”
She might have been joking. But it was pretty close to accurate.
On her next swing, she blasted a two-run shot to give Herriman a lead that it would never surrender. That started a six-run inning that made Thursday a little less heart-pumping for the Mustangs.
“I like how it wasn’t so close,” said McKissick, her shirt still dripping from when her team gave her a celebratory Gatorade bath. “I could breathe.”
Alexis Smith had a two-RBI single in the pivotal third inning and Taegan Smith put any thought of a late Layton comeback away when she blasted a double off the fence in the sixth that scored two more runs, giving Herriman a 9-1 advantage.
“It was a team thing,” McKissick said. “Our theme this year was, ‘play for her.’ It was a team thing, not just one or two.”
The motto was appropriate considering Herriman’s depth. Parkinson and Hoffman were the only seniors on this year’s squad. The Mustangs were filled with plenty of underclassmen eagerly awaiting their chance — chances that didn’t always come.
“I wish I could play all 24, I really do, because I am so blessed,” McKissick said. “And they knew they could play for each other.”
Before Parkinson hit her home run, she looked over to the dugout and saw her teammates smiling, laughing and just enjoying the moment. That made her want to perform that much more. It’s that type of attitude that fueled Herriman to their second straight title.
“When I came into this program I was a 5-foot-nothing freshman and I couldn’t hit it out of the infield,” she said. “Through these girls and these coaches, I’ve become better. That’s what I want to leave as a legacy that no matter who you are, you could do it.”