6A softball: Bingham dominates from start to finish in title win over Herriman

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PROVO — It only took a little over an inning for the Bingham Miners to showcase the offense that led them to the 6A state title series.

The bats, combined with a couple of strong pitching performances, led Bingham to a championship win over the Herriman Mustangs 11-5 on Saturday.

The Miners shut out Herriman in the first game of the best-of-three series the previous night, and all Bingham needed was one win. The team came through.

Herriman made it through the first inning unscathed before the Miners got hot in the second. Junior Oakley Clark led things off with a single to left field, and made it all the way to third after the ball skipped away from the left fielder. The powerful third baseman finished the game 4-of-5, while driving in two runs and scoring two runs, as well.

Small ball was the game for the Miners: sacrifice bunts, singles and walks led to Bingham quickly taking a 4-0 lead.

The Mustangs tried to answer back later in the inning with bases loaded and two outs, but centerfielder Gaby Lancaster struck out swinging to end the threat.

On the defensive side of the ball, Bingham was led by its senior ace, Shelbee Jones, who was in control for most of the game. She pitched four and two-third innings and allowed just one run on a Herriman single and triple in the third inning. Jones left the game with her team leading 7-1 and in control on the way to a championship win.

"This team just puts together a complete game," said Bingham head coach Mikki Jackson. "The offense, the defense got some great stops. ... As you know now, once you get a 4-0 lead with the pitching, that gives confidence to the hitters, too, because they know that they can — that those pitchers can hold a 4-0 lead."

Bingham continued to pour things on the Mustangs in the next few innings in an effort to cement the win. The Miners had a lot of traffic on the base paths all game and came through with big hits when necessary to pad the lead. By the top of the seventh inning, Bingham led 11-1 and put all the pressure on Herriman going into their final at-bats.

Following Jones' exit in the fifth inning, sophomore Brecka Larson took over and continued right where her teammate had left off. Larson cruised through the rest of the fifth and pitched a clean sixth before running into trouble in the seventh.

Determined not to go down without a fight, Herriman loaded the bases against Larson with a single, a double and a walk. The big blow came courtesy of the Mustangs' senior starting pitcher Kiaira Smith, who crushed a grand slam over the right field wall to take a chunk out of the deficit and see her team trail 11-5.

A hit batter and a strikeout later, and Jones re-entered the game to record the final out of her career and a championship win. A soft groundout to third base was all that stood in the way to a Bingham Miners championship.

Jackson said that no matter what, Jones was going to come back in to record the last out of the game. It didn't matter what the score was, and despite the big grand slam, she felt confident in her team led by the senior star.

For Jones and her team, getting to call themselves champions was a huge reward for the long road traveled together to get there.

"We all just have each other's back," Jones said. "We've known each other for so long, and from like open gyms to practices we always are just connected together. There's always just like, there's like an indescribable bond between us."


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