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Walk-off home run gives Riverton comeback for 5A softball title

By Andy Larsen, | Posted - May 26th, 2016 @ 9:34pm

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TAYLORSVILLE — This game had everything.

The over three-hour prize fight featured over-the-wall catches, a massive comeback, significant umpiring controversy and some fantastic fielding.

And best of all, a walk-off home run tied the bow. Somehow, Riverton overcame yet another massive deficit to win the 5A state softball championship, 13-11.

It was Taylor Eakle's massive three-run bomb to left field that completed the drama Thursday night.

"I'm just so excited," Eakle said after the game. "It just feels great. I don't know what else to say. I have tears."

West's bats were on fire early, getting out to a 7-2 lead by the bottom of the fifth inning on the back of some timely hits and walks from the entire lineup.

And that's when the craziness really hit. Down five, Riverton scored four runs, largely due to some loose pitching, including three straight walks in the inning. But West's center fielder Keisha White made the softball play of the season when she stole the third and final out with this incredible over-the-fence catch. The home run would have been the tying run at the time.

West answered the Riverton rally with three runs of its own in the top of the sixth inning, getting three hits with the bottom of the lineup. The Silverwolves answered with two runs of their own on Jordan Lockhart's deep homer to center field, this one just too deep for White. Still, Riverton was down two runs going into the seventh and final inning.

West managed one run in the top of the frame, but Lockhart picked up two strikeouts to limit the damage and give Riverton a chance to come back for good.

The inning did not have an auspicious start for the Silverwolves. The first batter, Alysson Houston, was called out for fouling off a pitch while she stood outside of the batter's box, a critical call in a critical situation. HaileyJo Hansen got on base with a single, but then was taken off the bases with a fielder's choice play at second.

But with two outs and a three-run deficit, Riverton rallied. Kaitlynn Withers got on base. Katelyn Whiting was hit by an errant West pitch. Lockhart came to the game as the winning run, and while she didn't duplicate her home run from the previous inning, she kept the streak going.

Then Eakle stepped up to the plate and took two called strikes. Down to the last pitch, Eakle got the pitch she was looking for and nailed it over the fence, creating pandemonium in the packed stands and on the field itself.

Andy Larsen

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