Bingham softball had to literally tunnel out to play one home game, but is delivering results regardlessMay 08, 2023 02:24PM ● By Brian Shaw
Charity Drake (left) celebrates Braxtyn Hunter’s tag out at second base. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
Like their Miner namesakes, Bingham softball has had to tunnel its way out.
“We shoveled 12+ inches off our field and finally got a game in on April 8, a beautiful 70 degree day that felt like Opening Day! Since then we have played in 80 degree temps and 36 degree temps,” said head coach Mikki Jackson.
For Bingham [4-0 Region 3, 7-2] the beginning of the season feels more like preseason due to the teeter-totter imbalance that Mother Nature has thrown their way.
“As the weather continues to bounce back and forth, the kids are progressing consistently,” Jackson said of her team. “They were great about working hard at whatever we threw at them during the extended stretch of indoor gym practices and hitting the dirt has allowed us to fine tune what we had been working on inside.”
Such a rare beginning to the season, the likes of which have never seen these kinds of interruptions since that nasty storm hit the Wasatch Front in 2007, has had a few silver linings according to the Bingham head coach.
“One cool thing that happened for us this year was a triple play against Mountain Ridge, March 21. There was a pitcher to first for the force,” explained the coach. “First base then threw backdoor on the runner who was tagged out by the second baseman coming back to second base, and second base (throws) to catcher to nail the runner coming from (third) to home. I’ve coached for over 30 years and have never seen one like that!”
One other silver lining: despite all the inclement weather, the Miners are already getting recognized for their hard work.
“The team is doing well. We are currently third in the UHSAA RPI and tied for first in region but are just really starting to get a feel for who we are. With so many games snowed out, we are only 9 games into the season at this point. We were fortunate to get 4 games in at a tournament in St. George mid March, but winter reared its head again and put us on pause until last week.”
That’s when the Miners started off their Region 3 season with a bang and eked out a 6-4 home win over Copper Hills, April 8.
“Our seniors — Shelbee Jones (P, UT), Braxtyn Hunter (MI, 3B) and Charity Drake C/UT) — are all performing well,” Jackson said. Jones went the distance for Bingham against Copper Hills, scattering seven hits in that April 8 region opener while throwing nine strikeouts.
“Shelbee and Braxtyn are both First Team All Staters that were named National Fastpitch Coaches Association All Western Region First team last year and continue to excel,” Jackson said of her SLCC-bound duo.
In nine games, Jones has a 5-1 record as a pitcher and has already hit four home runs. Hunter has hit seven RBI for Bingham in just four games played. A big addition to this Miners lineup has been the presence of senior Charity Drake, who was very limited last year.
“Charity played with an injury last year and was not able to hit but she is doing great at the plate and behind the plate this year. She has a rocket arm that can be used anywhere on the field as an ultimate utility player!” added Jackson.
Drake, who hasn’t committed to a college, leads the Miners with 15 hits.
The Miners hold tryouts in their gym each winter to find the next great Bingham softball player. According to Jackson, promising underclassmen can also find plenty of playing time with the Miners.
“Our sophomore class is loaded with talent,” Jackson said. “At any given time, six to seven sophomores are in the starting lineup. We also have freshmen seeing varsity time as well.”
Looking ahead, Jackson said she believes her Miners must have all of the tools to reach their three C’s—an objective they’re still working towards.
“Our goal is to be clicking on all cylinders with confidence, competence and consistency,” explained the Bingham head coach, who has amassed a whopping 448-140 record at the school.
Between a nonregion schedule that Jackson characterized as strong and a “solid ‘can-do, will try’ mentality of these kids,” she said it was reasonable to “expect that we will be a lot further down the road than we are today” by the time region play ends and the 6A state tournament is here.
There’s no question, however, that the wishy-washy weather has played a role on her team—like it has on all of the teams in her region.
“Although we have moved into region play, it still feels like we are early in the season and right now we are still working to get all parts of our game going at once. Some kids are hitting well and still finding their defensive game, some the other way around.
“We are already playing well but are still working toward our full potential. With less than a month until state begins and 17 games left to play before then, it can be reasonably expected that we will see a lot of progress between now and then.”λ