Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
WEST JORDAN — In a wild back-and-forth game, Ashley Clayson slammed a walk-off RBI single to lift Copper Hills in a thrilling 6-5 victory over Viewmont.
"It feels amazing. I can't stop smiling." said Clayson. "This is why we play the game, for moments like this."
Copper Hills took the lead for the first time in the fourth inning thanks to a towering solo home run by Clayson that sparked a three-run rally.
Copper Hills looked to be on its way to victory after the sixth inning as Shelby Abeyta fanned all three Viewmont batters and Amanda Cook slugged a homer of her own to give Copper Hills a 4-2 advantage.
Abeyta struck out two more batters in the seventh inning, but Stacie Payne stepped up and hit an RBI single to pull the Vikings within one run. Eliza Thornley stepped into the batter's box next and promptly hit a two-RBI single to give Viewmont a 5-4 lead heading into the final half inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs against the Grizzlies, Riley Cleverly hit the ball to deep center field and hustled around the bags for a triple. Skylar Cook then hit the ball down the third base line to bring in the tying run.
Viewmont elected to intentionally walk Amanda Cook and take its chances with Clayton. Moments later, the Copper Hills fans in attendance erupted with cheers as Clayton sent the ball soaring over the right fielder's head, and the Grizzlies into the quarterfinal round.
Copper Hills' head coach Jentry Johnson said there we not any words to describe the way she felt, but instead she simply said, "We're on our way."
Johnson also mentioned the positive impact of a fiery speech given to the team by Abeyta before they took their final at bat.
The win is Copper Hills' second narrow victory of the tournament after its 2-1 win over Fremont in the first round. Johnson attributes her team's ability to earn wins in close games to its tough and mentally challenging practices.
"We can't leave (practice) until we accomplish what we need to," she said.
In the next round Copper Hills faces Weber, which is the No. 1 seed out of Region 1.
Johnson says the plan going forward is to "do the little things." The little things include cheering for teammates, playing fundamentally sound, and keeping grades up in the classroom.
Copper Hills plays Weber at the Valley Softball Complex on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Viewmont moves to the consolation bracket to face BrightonTuesday at 2:15 p.m. at Viewmont High School.