Pahranagat Valley softball coach Mike Sparrow would rather create opportunities than wait for them.
His team adhered to that philosophy Saturday, and it paid off with a five-inning 13-3 victory over Eureka in the championship game of the Division IV state tournament at Rancho.
“We truly believe we need to be the best baserunning team,” said Sparrow, whose squad took advantage of nine errors committed by the Vandals. “We want to put pressure on the defense and cause them to make mistakes.”
Though the Panthers finished with just six hits, they created that pressure by putting the ball in play throughout the day and capitalizing on each Eureka miscue. Their first six runs were unearned and came with the benefit of just one hit.
The Vandals looked strong early, loading the bases with no outs in the second inning. Eureka sophomore Taylor Anderson nearly broke it open with a one-out RBI single, but a baserunning blunder at the tail end of the play resulted in a double play to get Pahranagat Valley pitcher Kennedy Huntsman out of the jam.
Sparrow said his team was never rattled.
“We work really hard on letting go of our mistakes,” he said. “We have a heavy mindset on keeping our spirits up.”
With the score tied at 2, the Panthers went to work in the bottom of the second, making the most of one hit, three walks and three Eureka errors to score five runs. They led the rest of the way.
Huntsman, who tossed a four hitter, kept the Vandals relatively quiet throughout the remaining innings, with the exception of an unearned run allowed in the fourth.
“Kennedy is what we’ve had all year,” Sparrow said. “She could have gone another game if we needed her to. She’s as solid as they come.”
With her team leading 11-3 in the fifth, Pahranagat Valley junior Bailee Hosier laced a two-out, two-run double to left field to end the game by way of the 10-run rule.
“This year, the girls bought into the idea that it was time to go back to work,” Sparrow said. “When softball season came, they poured their heart and soul into it.”
Randi Jones went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to help the Panthers, who claimed their first state championship since 2008.