Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
TAYLORSVILLE — When Bear River and Spanish Fork meet Monday, only one thing is certain — the two teams will deliver a great game.
"That's one of the finest softball games you'll ever see," said Bear River head coach Calvin Bingham after the Bears 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Dons on Saturday morning.
Because the 3A softball tournament is double elimination, top-ranked Spanish Fork, who won the 4A state title last year, will get another shot at second-ranked, four-time 3A state champion Bear River.
Led by veteran coaches who crave the toughest challenges possible for their players, the two teams have faced nearly every ranked squad in the state. Bear River beat the top three ranked teams in 5A, while Spanish Fork scored 52 runs on Saturday to beat three teams and earn another shot at the Bears.
The squads have just seven losses between them. Both combined hard working, experienced seniors with talented, hungry underclassmen.
The Dons are led by sophomore second baseman McKinley Brinkerhoff, senior pitcher Kailey Christensen, senior shortstop Kelli Hales and senior centerfielder Kylee Wolf.
The Bears are led by junior pitcher (and reigning 3A MVP) Jordan Theurer, senior centerfielder Morgan Summers, senior catcher Tyree Haramoto, third baseman Shaunie Owen and senior second baseman Kassi Fronk.
Bingham said he fully expected Spanish Fork to battle through the one-loss bracket for a shot at the 3A title.
"I think it's a very real possibility," he said a few hours before Spanish Fork earned that championship game berth. "I think we're the two best teams in 3A. I don't think there is any doubt about that."
Bingham understands what it takes to come through the loser's bracket and win a title because he's done it.
"The first year we won, we came through the loser's bracket to beat Tooele," he said.
But for the Dons to win two games against the Bears will be tough. Bear River has won 24 straight playoff games, something they said gives them confidence.
The game normally would have been played Saturday afternoon, but weather pushed all of Friday's games to Saturday. That made Saturday tougher for Spanish Fork, but gives them a day off before Monday's championship game.
The game will be played at Salt Lake Community College at 2 p.m, and UHSAA officials said seating is limited so patrons are encouraged to bring chairs. If Spanish Fork wins the 2 p.m. game, the two squads will play one more to determine which squad will earn the title.
"This group of seniors has had a pretty good haul," said Spanish Fork head coach Don Andrews. "We're looking forward to playing Bear River again."
Adds senior Kylee Wolf, "We want a re-match."
American Fork (22-5) vs. Jordan (17-8), 4:30 p.m.
Bingham (22-4) vs. Alta (16-11), 7 p.m.
Monday's one-loss bracket
Kearns (10-13) vs. Taylorsville (18-7), 11 a.m.
Lone Peak (14-13) vs. Copper Hills (15-11), 1:30 p.m.
Syracuse (16-9) vs. Viewmont (13-14), 4:30 p.m.
Riverton (13-14) vs. Davis (20-4), 7 p.m.
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