The Herriman Mustangs made a mark in 5A Utah state softball this season. They finished second and scored runs almost at will, making them a team to be reckoned with.
“I feel like this is the right time. We had a down turn in the middle of the season, but we came back strong for the tournament. We are taking this one game at a time,” head coach Heidi McKissick said, after the Mustangs advanced to the state championship game.
The final two games of the tournament did not turn out quite like the Mustangs had dreamed of. They lost twice to Lehi 7-2.
Bryce Taylor, another Herriman junior, compiled a 16-4 record this season and struck out 50 opposing hitters. Photo courtesy of Wade Tycksen
The Pioneers forced a second do-or-die championship game by hammering out 15 hits in game one. The Mustangs could only muster three hits while scoring two runs. Herriman had battered Lehi twice during the regular season 9-1 and 12-1, but Lehi was able to use a strong pitching performance by Sydney White to calm the Mustang bats.
The Pioneers pulled away in the final two innings by breaking a 2-2 tie. Junior Lauren Tycksen scored both runs in game one for the Mustangs. She came home in the first inning on a double by Bryce Taylor and scored from first base in the fifth on a double by Dayna Hokanson.
In game two, Lehi jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Mustangs battled back. Taylor walked in the fourth inning and courtesy runner Cassidy Adams was able to score on a passed ball. This cut the Pioneer lead to three. In the top of the sixth, Hokanson scored on a Taylor single, but the Mustangs could not sustain the rally and fell 7-2.
“All season we never depended on one player. It was fun to watch everyone contributing. This team has such great camaraderie and meshed very well. The girls are loving it,” McKissick said.
The Mustangs team batting average of .430 represented 393 hits, and nine players homered this season. In the Mustang 13-3 tournament victory over Fremont, senior Ashley Shetler belted two homeruns her first two of the season. Ashlyn Visser also belted two in that game.
“Ashley’s hit two homeruns; we have not depended on just one player, though. Shetler has been a solid second baseman for us this season. She has stepped up as a senior,” McKissick said.
In the Fremont game Visser’s towering blast to left and line drive over the right field fence were her third and fourth homeruns of the season. Ashlyn and her sister, April, have played important roles on the team.
Herriman junior Lauren Tycksen robbed a homerun in the state championship game against Lehi.
“It is not bad to have two daughters that have done very well. I am very proud of them. They started playing in bonnet ball at three years old,” Randy Visser, Ashlyn and April’s father, said. “At home I am just the dad; our rule is we don’t talk softball until the next day. We have to give them time to soak it all in, good or bad. It is just a game still.”
April is a freshman and hit .462 this season. Ashlyn is a junior and, along with her four homeruns, had 41 runs batted in.
“When I get in the box I say in my mind that I am a beast. I try to feel confident. Our team tries to stay positive and together,” Ashlyn Visser said.
The Mustangs closed out the season with a 26-6 record. They scored 50 runs in the six state tournament games. The Mustangs graduate four seniors. They could be a force next season, too.