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SPANISH FORK — A lot of softball fans think they know Tooele pitcher Attlyn Johnston.
A lot of softball fans are wrong, though.
Johnston pitched a complete-game one-hitter with 14 strikeouts, and Hope Weight scored the only run of the game in the third inning to lift the Buffaloes into the Class 4A state softball title game with a 1-0 win over Bear River at the Spanish Fork softball complex.
"A lot of people think that they know what I throw, but they really don't," Johnston said. "I know that I have to hit spots on every batter, and certain batters, I know what they can and can’t hit."
The sophomore who has already committed to Dixie State opened the game with six-straight strikeouts, and Tooele (26-2) never looked back, mixing up a riseball with a vicious changeup to drop the Bears (22-11-1) into the one-loss bracket.
All courtesy of the fresh-faced sophomore with braces whose jersey number (14) matched her total number of strikeouts — and didn’t surprise her coach one bit. Johnston also threw a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts in a second-round win over Spanish Fork.
"She's been like that since she was a freshman," Tooele coach Marissa Lowry said. "I'm proud of her and I’m proud of my team. Bear River is a great team, and I knew it would come down to one run or the last three outs."
After Johnston retired the side twice in a row, the Buffaloes opened up their offense in the third inning, loading the bases with three hits and an error in the inning. Weight skirted home on a wild throw to third, and that was all the Buffs needed.
Well, that — and a little help from the defense.
After giving up the only hit of the game in the third to Bear River’s Kati Gibbs in the third, Weight, Paige Rydalch and Kennedie Anderson combined on a 4-5-3 double play to end the inning. A few frames later, Madi Baker made a remarkable catch down the third-base lane to rob Kodi Gibbs of a hit, and the Bears could get no closer.
"Madi Baker is definitely my superstar. I love her," Johnston said. "And everyone else did a really good job, with that double play from Hope and other plays."
Bear River will face Spanish Fork, which beat Ridgeline 5-1, in an elimination game Saturday morning at 10 a.m. MT. The winner will advance to face the Buffaloes, which will only need one win in two games to clinch the state title.
"When someone does get off Attlyn, our defense backs her up," Lowry said. "State championship teams have 1-9 hitters, great defensive players, and we have them."
Bear River pitcher Bailey Theurer scattered just five hits with two strikeouts and a walk to lead the Bears.
All games will be streamed on live.ksl.com.