It was Halloween, and Brianna St. Clair wore her older sister McKenzie’s BYU softball jersey to school that day.
At the time, no one at Desert Hills High knew St. Clair had played for a prominent club softball team several months earlier in Texas called the Texas Glory.
Club softball practice put an extra two hours on her already-long Sundays, which started at 5 a.m. with religious obligations.
St. Clair decided she didn’t want to play in college, so she stopped playing for the club team.
She had every intention of not playing softball when her family moved to St. George from Texas, and she didn’t plan on telling anyone she played, either.
But the secret got out and the DHHS athletic director and softball coach Brady Fonnesbeck asked St. Clair if she’d play for the Thunder.
“I decided why not, it’s high school ball. I started practicing again and it turned out to be a really good decision,” St. Clair said before practice last week.
That’s how the sophomore ended up playing for DHHS, and she’s made quite the impact already.
Desert Hills was 12-3 heading into Tuesday’s game at Snow Canyon, which was undefeated heading into the game and a popular pick to win Region 9.
Coming into Tuesday, St. Clair owned a 10-2 record with a 2.28 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) with 108 batters and a .186 batting average against.
All of which are impressive statistics, and while St. Clair says the team works hard and has everything it needs to be successful, she doesn’t shy away from her talents.
“I’ve pitched my whole life and when I came in, I think it just gave this team a push that they needed,” St. Clair said.
Coincidentally, the lack of a pitcher who’s pitched for many years, like St. Clair, has limited Desert Hills recently. That situation forced Fonnesbeck to have a pitcher-by-committee system last year.
He doesn’t take anything away from the players who pitched last year; he simply appreciates having stability at the position now.
“They did their best, but there’s a huge difference between someone who’s pitched since they were 8 or 9 years old and someone who’s pitched since they were a freshman,” coach Brady Fonnesbeck said.
This season is Fonnesbeck’s fourth coaching the softball team, and the Thunder already have more wins (12) than they did last year (9).
Their meteoric turnaround even prompted a change in season goals. Initially, Fonnesbeck said they wanted to qualify for the state tournament. Now, they want to do that and win a Region 9 title.
“I’ve always felt like if we had a pitcher that had pitched for a long time and was skilled that we could turn this around really quick,” he said. “Brianna has really just kind of validated the hard work that we’ve put in.”
One reason why St. Clair has been successful this season is her relationship with catcher and fellow sophomore Morgynn Rosemeyer.
In the middle of a stoppage during last week’s 11-10 win at Hurricane, Rosemeyer walked to the pitcher’s mound, and evidently told St. Clair something funny enough that she fell on the ground laughing.
“When (St. Clair) first started coming out, Morgynn was the one who came out and caught for her and they just developed this great rapport,” Fonnesbeck said.
If this season’s results are anything to bank on, the next two years of St. Clair and Rosemeyer might make this year look tame.
There’s a little more going on than just a new pitcher shutting down lineups left and right.
St. Clair, Shelby Reynolds, Sophie Wilcox and Kylie Bowler all have batting averages over .400.
Desert Hills scores just under nine runs per game, but with the addition of St. Clair, the Thunder no longer have to bank on their opponents always scoring runs in bunches.
It’s still early in region play, but the fact that hardly anyone but St. Clair has any postseason experience will be another hurdle for the team to navigate.
Not according to Rosemeyer, anyway.
“If we just go out and play the way we can, you don’t need experience, you just go and do it,” Rosemeyer said.