TAYLORSVILLE — It was not the game Macauley Flint wanted to throw in her final high school appearance.
Thanks to a little help from her teammates, however, it turned out to be the ending they'd all envisioned for more than a year.
"That's about as bad as I've seen Macauley throw in four years," said her father and Roy assistant coach Travis Flint after Roy defeated Murray 9-7 for the 5A state softball title at the Valley Complex. "She had cramps in her arms and hands and she was struggling."
Her father called a time out and reminded her of one very important fact — softball is a team sport.
"I think I was a little bipolar," said Macauley, the 5A Tournament MVP. "I have the best team ever, and I had to just take a deep breath and remember that."
It did not help the senior's confidence that she gave up a single to the Spartans' craftiest base runner Malia Campos and then Maddy Woodard got on base on an error. Then, with two outs, leftfielder Tanisha Anderson smashed a home run to give Murray a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Travis Flint reminded his daughter that she didn't need to do everything.
"I said, 'Maybe this isn't the way you dreamed it would be, but the opportunity is still there,' " he said. "And she gutted through it."
Both coaches and Macauley credited the team's offense for giving them the edge against a talented and tenacious Murray squad. Roy had three home runs, the first of which was a three-run shot by Bryce Mitchell that sailed over the left field fence in the third inning.
Headed into the bottom of the fifth inning, the game was tied at 4-4. In the bottom of the fifth, Meagan Parker hit a two-run home run to give Roy a two-run advantage.
Murray, however, wasn't going down easy.
"It was like a Rocky movie," said Travis Flint throwing a punch in the air. "It was like, 'Just go down!' But that's how you want a championship to be."
Murray head coach Lisa Parker was proud of the way the Spartans battled.
"It was a good game," Parker said. "They kept fighting, and they fought hard. I don't think anybody thought we'd be here today. They came back strong today after losing (to Roy) last night, and they fought and fought."
In the top of the sixth inning, Karly Johnson's double scored two runs to bring the Spartans within a run of Roy. That's when sophomore Jordynn Barrera stepped to the plate and smashed a two-run home run, which gave the Royals a three run advantage. Murray scored one more run, but it wasn't enough to take the game from the team that was favored to win the title most of the season.
"Nobody cheers for Goliath," said Travis Flint. "It was us against the world — and when I say us, I mean the 36,000 Roy City residents."
The pressure of trying to win the title that many felt they should have earned last year was difficult to manage at times. And, at times in Friday's game, it looked like Roy might repeat last year's collapse against a Bingham team that had to beat them twice to win the title. But they stayed focused and composed and didn't let the Spartans steal their moment.
"I'm so impressed with my girls," said Roy head coach Amanda Koford. "They didn't get caught up in the doom and gloom of it. Cauley didn't have her stuff today, but they were willing to fight for each other. There is jubilation but also relief. I can get a good night's sleep now."
While some of the players worried that the team would be forced to play the Spartans a third time in two days, Travis Flint said he noticed a difference in the team in this year's final game.
"Last year our life was too easy," he said as he watched his daughter celebrate her last high school victory. "We trailed by two innings all year. We said all season, 'We're going to make mistakes. But let's not make the same mistakes over and over.' "
5A All Tournament Team
MVP: Macauley Flint, Roy
Malia Campos, Murray
Jordynn Barrera, Roy
Meagan Parker, Roy
Alyssa Strobehn, Murray
Bryce Mitchell, Roy
Maddy Woodard, Murray
Tanisha Anderson, Murray
Haley Pardo, Weber
McKenna Bull, Weber
Cydnee Clark, Weber
Jaycee Liechty, Weber
Katie Greenberg, Taylorsville8 comments on this story
Erin Romero, Taylorsville
Danielle Soffe, Bingham