Softball team ends five-year drought

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Even after a 21-6 loss, coaches John Campbell and Sandy Mercer had to say little to their Mountain West Insurance and Financial Services girls softball team to get it to forget about the defeat.

"I think each one of us just said one thing," Campbell said. "They never looked down, they just got back together and got ready for the next game."

"They grouped it up themselves and started saying little prayers," Mercer said. "They definitely pumped themselves up."

Mountain West, a team made up of Craig girls from ages 12-16, had lost for the first time in the post-season tournament. According to both coaches, the loss to Hayden Valley Reality, a team they had beat 12-9 the day before, barely registered on the girls' minds. Because of the double-elimination format, the teams had a second game to see who would earn the league

championship shirts.

There were big stakes for both teams as the same Hayden coach and several of the older girls on the team had come in second the last three years in the tournament and, on the other side, a Craig team hadn't won a title in five years.

Both teams came out ready to play.

"We only had five minutes between games," Mercer said. "But it looked like a completely different team out there the second game."

Hayden took a 4-0 lead in the first, but the rallying cry of "three up, three down, we don't mess around" started to become more affective for the Craig girls as the game continued.

Craig regained the momentum and came back to capture the title, 10-6.

Mercer said the team was so focused, it was making plays that surprised the coaching staff. Generally, before each pitch the coaches let the girls know at which base the play was at but the team did things the coaches didn't mention.

"They already knew where to throw the ball before we told them," she said. "There was at least one double play that they figured out themselves without our help."

At the end of the game the team was so focused on playing well, it hadn't realized it had won.

"The girls came in the dugout and started to get ready for their at bats," Mercer said. "Then we told them they had won and they went crazy."

Both coaches were quick to point out that they made their title run without one of their best players with a key to Friday's win due in part to how well the younger girls played.

"With the ages ranging from 12 to 16, there's a lot of difference in maturity and ability," Campbell said. "But they all got along really well and the younger girls played great the last game."

After being a part of Craig's first championship team in five years at the older division, Mercer gave credit to the girls, and also pointed out how much fun she had.

"Coming into the season I was a little apprehensive about coaching," she said. "But I loved it so much I hope to coach next year now."

Campbell had similar thoughts.

"I coached baseball for 11 years and I've never had so much fun as this year," he said. "The girls also give

better hugs."

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