TAYLORSVILLE — The Spanish Fork softball team didn't set out to exact revenge against the team that broke their hearts in last year's title game.
But, as it turned out, coming through the one-loss bracket to beat Tooele was a pretty satisfying finish for the Dons.
"It feels so stinking good," said pitcher and 4A Tournament MVP Kailey Christensen after Spanish Fork defeated Tooele 6-5 for the title. "Ever since last year, when they beat us, it's been our goal to show them that we belong here."
Proving that point was more difficult than the Dons might have imagined after they lost on Wednesday to Mountain Crest. Spanish Fork then had to win two games Thursday and three Friday to claim that first place trophy.
Spanish Fork started by avenging that loss to the Mustangs with a 7-2 win against Mountain Crest at 10 a.m. A half hour after that victory, they squared off against Tooele for their first victory against the Bufffaloes — a 10-5 decision. And then there was the final game, which turned out to be a nail-biter, an endurance contest and test of both stamina and grit as the teams traded the lead five times.
Key in earning the title was junior pitcher Kailey Christensen and her senior catcher Lyndsey Healey.
"We left it up to her," said Spanish Fork Don Andrews of Christensen who threw all but one inning of the eight state tournament games. "As long as her shoulder didn't hurt, we left her in. And after that second inning, we quit asking. It was a pretty gutty performance."
He also praised Healey, who called all but one of the pitches in Friday's triple-header, and hit the solo home run that won the game for the Dons in the sixth inning.
"Not just her hitting but she handles Kailey for me," Andrews said. "I can't say enough about her leadership."
Christensen said the hours of throwing paid off as she plowed her way through about an eight-hour day in the circle.
"It feels so good that all that hard work paid off," she said, wiping away tears. "Sometimes I get so sick of it. But it's nice to know it pays off."
As for her catcher, Christensen choked up all over again just talking about her.
"She does an awesome job," she said. "When I throw a bad pitch, I know it's not getting by her. She's the best."
Healey said she was proud of Christensen as she works so hard in practice.
"She's worked hard from day one," said the senior. "Even when she got tired, she just kept working."
The game was full of thrills, including home runs and great defensive plays. But the fifth inning was probably the most spectacular. Tooele had bases loaded with one out when Spanish Fork right fielder Brooke Kramer made two jaw-dropping catches to hold the Buffaloes to one run.
Then the Tooele defense returned the favor when in the bottom of that inning, Spanish Fork had bases loaded with two outs and when centerfielder Hadli Sorensen fielded a base hit from McKinley Brinkerhoff that scored Brooke Thurgood, and then threw out Brooke Kramer at home to keep the game tied at 5-5.
"They're a good team, and I have a lot of respect for them," said Andrews.
As for Kramer's golden glove in right field, the coach just grinned.
"That's a senior going out in style," he said.
Kramer said she took the field with confidence on Friday.2 comments on this story
"When I get nervous, I tend not to do as well," she said beaming and accepting congratulations from fans. "This was the best day."
4A All Tournament Team
MVP Kailey Christensen, Spanish Fork
Lyndsey Healey, Spanish Fork
Brooke Kramer, Spanish Fork
Kelli Hales, Spanish Fork
Hadli Sorenson, Tooele
Whitney Holt, Tooele
Marissa Mendenhall, Tooele
Lauren Frailey, Tooele
Kenzie Rasmussen, Mtn. Crest
McKenzie Anderson, Mtn. Crest
Kelsey Benson, Mtn. Crest
Jerika Durfey, Salem Hills
Hailey Ingram, Salem Hills
Taylor Craven, Uintah
Maddy Schulz, Uintah