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TAYLORSVILLE — McKenna Bull's hand was swollen and her forearm was throbbing with pain, but no one ever considered her taking her out of the 5A state championship softball game.
"She's carried us this far, she could carry us the rest of the way," said an emotional Weber head softball coach Melinda Wade after the Warriors earned the 5A championship with a 2-0 win over Bingham and two victories against the team that sent them to the one-loss bracket of the double elimination tournament on Tuesday — Copper Hills — 9-3 and in the final game, 8-6. "She's unmatched. She's tough as nails. That kid is so tough. She was having some pain, but she decided she was going to push through and she did."
Bull is the key to why the team was ranked No. 1 most of the season and the reason it won the Region 1 title without a single loss.
"We came into (the last two days) feeling we were the best team, but we knew we'd have a price to pay (for losing Tuesday)," she said. "And we were prepared to pay the price."
That price was winning five softball games in two days, and Bull admitted thatthrowing so many pitches took a toll on her.
But after losing Tuesday's game on a wild pitch, she was prepared to do whatever was necessary to earn the state title for Weber High.
"I definitely felt like I needed to help my team out," said Bull, who wept as she hugged each of her five grandmothers who made the drive to watch her win the school's first softball title. She said it helped that her coaches and teammates also admitted that the squad needed more offense so that all of the responsibility of winning didn't depend on the future BYU pitcher.
The team played well Wednesday and Bull said she felt confident all day Thursday.
"I just woke up this morning, and I knew I was ready," said the soft-spoken player.
Still, she left nothing to chance. She went to her grandfather's house (who also happens to be her pitching coach) and asked for a blessing.
"He just gave me strength to keep going," she said as tears streamed down her face and she cradled her swollen pitching hand. "I kept it with me all day."
As for being part of earning the school a softball title, she grinned through the tears, "It's just the greatest thing in the world."
The trip to the special moment was fraught with obstacles. First was getting past Bingham Thursday afternoon. Junior first baseman Erin Reichle scored on a Bingham error in the fourth inning. Haleigh Mortensen hit the single that scored Kennede Clarke in the seventh to give the Warriors a 2-0 win.
Then they faced the prospect of beating the team that had defeated them on Tuesday and having to beat them twice to claim the title. The first game looked to be another pitching duel until three errors in the fourth inning, combined with three hits led to a seven-run inning for Weber. The Grizzlies changed pitchers at the end of that inning, but the Warriors' lead was too much to overcome.
In the second game, Weber's offense was led by Reichle again, who got on base on a single and then scored when a teammate was walked.
The Grizzlies went back to senior Shelby Abeyta, who threw an impressive final game. Copper Hills actually tied the game in the second inning, but then catcher Haylee Chugg, who got on base on a walk, scored on an error to give the Warriors the lead again.
"I just think this was a new experience," said Copper Hills head coach Jentry Johnson. "My girls felt a lot of pressure. I could tell."
Still, advancing to the title game was something the program has never done.
"We were riding an adreneline wave for several days, and when we made a few mistakes, we weren't able to make those small adjustments," she said. "It doesn't take away from what they accomplished. I'm proud of every one of these girls."
Wade said the Warriors' win was the perfect ending to the school year for the team and the community.
"It's huge," she said as her son asked her if they were now the best in the world. "A championship means a lot to Weber High."
5A All-Tournament Team
MVP: McKenna Bull, Weber
Hali Bennion, Weber
Haylee Chugg, Weber
Erin Reichle, Weber
Hannah Charlton, Weber
Amanda Cook, Copper Hills
Ashley Clayson, Copper Hills
Emilee Sweet, Copper Hills
Shelby Abeyta, Copper HillsComment on this story
Dani Hamilton, Copper Hills
Paige Reimann, Bingham
Whitney LittleDyke, Bingham