Riverton softball hits the ground runningApr 03, 2022 05:30PM ● By Travis Barton
Chloe Woods was one of four seniors on the Riverton squad.
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
A year ago, the Riverton High softball team almost ran the table, going 24-1 en route to a state championship.
This year’s version of the Silverwolves might be even better, jumping out to a 10-0 record at press time.
The team only lost four seniors from 2021’s squad and reloaded with plenty of upperclassmen able to pick up where they left off, as well as a healthy dose of talented underclassmen.
With the large swath of returners, senior Kaysen Korth said team chemistry picked up right away. She added they’ve focused on the details that led to last year’s success.
“It’s really easy when you win state to just be like ‘oh, we're the best team out here.’ But our coach has drilled in our head that everybody's beatable, you keep on grinding or you are gonna get beat,” Korth said.
While from the outside it may look easy, head coach Katelyn Elliott is quick to point out it takes a lot of work to constantly grow, but this group has the right attitude.
“We have very coachable kids, all the way from seniors to freshmen, they're just always wanting to get better. It's fun,” she said.
That coachability has pleased Elliott more than the 10 wins the team rattled off to start the season. She highlighted the underclassmen as a group, many of whom could have looked elsewhere to play with a guaranteed starting spot.
“This is a really competitive program, they could take the easy way out and they don't,” Elliott said. “They went ‘no I want to go play under these state champions, I want to learn from them. I want to grow.’ That's the mindset we're working with and they will continue to grow when you have that mindset so it's fun to see that.”
Part of that mindset is essential to the softball program at Riverton, where Elliott and her coaches emphasize constantly controlling the controllables, always focusing towards the present.
“One thing we really work on a lot is learning from your failures,” she said. “We’re not going to be mad if you strikeout or miss a sign, but how did you respond.”
It’s a life lesson, Elliott said, she wants to accompany them throughout their lives.
“You’re not always going to hit the ball every single time, you’re going to fail seven times out of 10 and you’re considered a great hitter, so you’ve got to be mentally strong,” she said.
Korth acknowledges that mindset is driven into them by Elliott, and they’ve seen it pay off. Whether in a game last season where they adjusted to the umpire’s questionable strike zone, or a game this season hitting into a vicious wind, adjusting to hit hard ground balls.
“Instead of being mad we switched into 'now we have to make better plays,'” Korth said.
Wins are inevitably the result of that process for the gifted Silverwolves. Riverton was 10-0 at press time, coming off a week where it began region with a 10-1 victory over reigning 5A runners-up Mountain Ridge and a 10-0 win over rival Herriman.
In fact, through 10 games, the Silverwolves had a +88 run differential, winning by an average of nine runs. Two of their preseason wins came against 5A champs Spanish Fork (6-0) and 6A contender Skyridge (4-1). It’s even led to a No. 11 national ranking in the USA Today Sports/NFCA High School rankings.
“We take it in stride,” Elliott said of the ranking. “The girls deserve the recognition, they’re a phenomenal team and it’s something that you need to recognize and say that's awesome. But also we're going to keep plugging along and keep working to get better.”
Korth is one of the reasons for that national ranking. The senior leads the team from the mound, only allowing two runs and recording 109 strikeouts while averaging .545 from the plate knocking in four home runs and 12 RBIs.
But she is quick to underline the quality of the squad. From catcher Mariyah Delgado (“Catchers just do not get enough credit, she’s in there every time, every frame is perfect.”) to shortstop Jolie Mayfield (“She’s insane, the amount of talent she has, she’s so smooth.”) to center-fielder Tessa Hogue (She’s so smart, she’s not a home run hitter, but she’ll get on every time just by little hits and starts the momentum.”), Korth points out the talent and attitude of her team.
“There's just so many to talk about, every single one of them is hard working and selfless and they're all amazing,” she said.
Korth herself was the 6A player of the year in 2021 but seems to have come back even stronger. She credits both improving her spins with her future Weber State college coaches (where she’s committed to play next year) and pitching relief to star Chloe Borges last season.
Having always been the starter on her teams, she said it helped “a lot learning from somebody older” and to wait until she was needed. When that happened in the state playoffs, “that just drove me to be like ‘nobody’s hitting off you.’”
“Not being the starting pitcher last year was probably one of the best things for me.”
But it’s her mental strength that stands out to her coach.
“She’s never complacent, she just is always working hard and always attacking,” Elliott said. “She's the definition of everything we want here at Riverton.”
Perhaps to sum that up, when asked how she felt beating Mountain Ridge and Herriman by almost 10 runs in the same week, Korth responded succinctly:
“It feels good, but I think we could’ve done even better.”