5A softball: Offensive breakout leads Spanish Fork to 3rd-straight title over Bountiful


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PROVO — On Thursday night, Spanish Fork and Bountiful engaged in a pitcher's duel the entire game, with the Dons squeaking out a 1-0 win to take the first of the best-of-three championship series.

On Friday afternoon, it appeared the teams were headed for a similar style of game as pitching ruled for the first four innings. Then the offenses woke up and the Dons captured the state title with an 8-4 win over the Hawks.

The win clinched Spanish Fork's dynasty, who won the state championship three years in a row dating back to the 2020-21 season. Led by head coach Natalie Jarvis, the Dons dominated the 5A competition the last few seasons and did so again on Friday.

The starting pitchers for both teams navigated through traffic throughout the first few innings and dealt with some uncharacteristic errors behind them. But Spanish Fork's Avery Sapp and Bountiful's Eva Stoddard each managed to put up zeros through the first four frames of the game.

But in the top of the fifth inning, some of those errors turned into problems for the Spanish Fork defense. Bountiful's Jaci Alvey doubled and then reached third on an error in the outfield.

The next batter, Malissa Turpin, singled her home to give the RedHawks the first lead of the day. After another single to put runners on first and second, Spanish Fork caught the RedHawks runners on the base paths; but when catcher Paige Pierce threw down to the first baseman, it glanced off her glove and deep into the right field foul territory.

Both runners took off and came around to score, which gave the RedHawks a quick 3-0 lead and hopes of forcing a Game 3.

"I think everyone was just a little bit overwhelmed once (the RedHawks) scored one run," Sapp said. "I think we all just kind of laid flat a little bit; but once we had a little talk to each other, I think we were all good."

Bountiful's offense coming alive seemed to do the same for Spanish Fork. When they came up in the bottom half of the inning, the Dons put together their own combination of hits mixed with defensive errors.

The Dons scratched two runs across with some heads-up base running on passed balls, and got some help from a few infield miscues. Trailing 3-2, Spanish Fork put runners on first and second when Pierce, who had only hit three home runs all season, sent a ball over the center field wall for a three-run homer to take the lead and light a fire under the Dons.

"We had a little team regroup, and I think that's where it changed," Jarvis said. "I think it was: If we couldn't score three runs to win this game then we didn't deserve to win the game, and so that's where we kind of had that turning factor."

Leading 5-3, Spanish Fork regained its confidence, and Sapp continued to pitch well.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, lightning struck twice for the Dons. A walk and a double put two on for second baseman Tatum Hall, who proceeded to homer to nearly the exact same spot that Pierce had an inning earlier. The three runs provided helpful insurance as the Dons found themselves three outs away from their third consecutive state title.

"You never know who's gonna come through, and I have a very strong lineup all the way through," Jarvis said. "And today, it just took a little bit of everybody to make this happen — to make eight runs happen."

The RedHawks gave one last effort and earned a run in the seventh inning, but Sapp and the Dons were too much in their title pursuit.

"I had no worries," Sapp said. "Literally no worries. I knew that my players would come back and we'd win it. And we fight because we always fight; we never let down."

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