5A softball: Ryann Haveron's 'game of her life' has Springville 1 win from championship

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PROVO — In two regular-season meetings, Spanish Fork swept its region rival Springville that included a dominant 15-4 win in the second meeting — likely a key differentiator between the Dons' No. 1 overall seed and the second-seeded Red Devils in the 5A state softball tournament.

Springville pulled one back where it counts.

Brooklyn Zajac went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored, and Kalia Sjobreg added an RBI double as the Red Devils shut out top-seeded Spanish Fork, 6-0 in the first game of the best-of-three 5A championship series Thursday afternoon at BYU's Gail Miller Field.

Ryann Haveron scattered three hits with four strikeouts for Springville (27-5), which will try to complete the series Friday at 11 a.m. MDT at BYU.

But perhaps that line doesn't best describe what the senior who pitches with thick frames and a wicked spin did in the circle.

"Ryann pitched the game of her life," Springville coach Jill Thackeray said. "She kept them so off balance, and she was hitting her spots and spinning the ball. When Ryann is spinning the ball, she is tough to touch. And I think her defense had her back, for the most part.

"She was very focused."

Springville did all of its damage on just four hits, but took advantage of Spanish Fork errors and an aggressive baserunning approach that included four stolen bases and several other extra bases taken to strike early against Spanish Fork ace Lucy Evans and never look back.

"We know that runs are few and far between against Spanish Fork," Thackeray said. "Lucy's a great pitcher, and knowing that we had to manufacture runs however we can, that was our approach going in. A lot of times, it's a ball here or a ball there and we have to put ourselves in position to score."

Haveron fanned just four, but rarely let the ball get out of the infield, preferring a mix of finesse and spin over power to keep the Dons off balance.

The 1-0 lead after Zajac took third base with an early steal and came home on Allyx Haveron's sacrifice made a world of difference, too.

"It helps a ton. It shows that my offense had my back, and I knew I had some cushion in case somebody got on," Haveron said of the early edge. "I wasn't worried about it then."

Springville struck first in the top of the first. Zajac's double finished on third base with a stolen base, and the senior catcher came home on Allyx Haveron's sacrifice fly to left field to give the Red Devils the early lead.

Sjoberg doubled Springville's lead in the third, coming around from a double to scratch another run before Allyx Haveron added another with an RBI single in the top of the sixth.

The Red Devils tacked on three more in the top of the seventh, including Tyler Haveron's two-run single that helped stretch the lead to 6-0 before her older sister closed it out from the circle.

"I just came in thinking I had nothing to lose," Haveron said. "Just throw my best, do what I can, and I knew I had a good defense behind me. I wasn't worried. We've been hitting the ball."

Evans finished with four strikeouts in the complete-game effort for Spanish Fork (28-3), and Tatum Hall went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk for the Dons (28-3), who will have to beat Springville twice Friday to win a fourth consecutive state title and 10th in program history.

"We know we're not done yet; we have one more win to go," Thackeray said. "And we don't want to let up knowing that you have the cushion. We need to pick up where we left off today, and carry it over into tomorrow."

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