SPRINGVILLE Tongues have been wagging about the Springville vs. Tooele softball matchup for weeks, and nobody was disappointed by the quality of play when the showdown finally happened.
For most of the contest, it appeared there would be no score heading into extra innings. Even the Tooele coach, Barry Pitt, admitted that after six innings he was settling in for a 10-inning affair.
But then the battle for Region 7 supremacy took a turn in Tooele's direction, as the Buffaloes crushed a pair of home runs over the left-field fence, ending the contest in the seventh with the 2-0 win.
After her defense backed her up to perfection through the first six innings, Tooele pitcher Lauren Folta took things upon her own shoulders and launched the first pitch of the seventh inning over the left-field fence, giving herself the game-winner. Just for a little cushion, Aly Jensen added her own identical long ball two batters later, and the Buffaloes had a 2-0 lead.
"It was a big relief when we saw the ball go over the fence. Then they had to chase us. I knew their top of the lineup was out of the way and we just had to focus on getting out the next three batters," said Pitt, whose team went out there and complied.
Folta finished the game with a six-hit shutout, recording seven strikeouts and only one walk in the process. Springville pitcher Sarah Clark only gave up four hits, two of them the home runs, and she took down 14 with strikes.
"The pitching was incredible. We saw two of the best out there today, and neither one gave up much," said Pitt.
Neither defense gave up much, either, as there was only one error recorded in the entire contest. But it wasn't just the lack of errors that made these defenses so good, it was the spectacular plays that would have gone for hits if the fielders hadn't given it their all.
Perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game belonged to center fielder Whitney Griffith, who threw out Clark as she was trying to make it home from second on a single by Aria Agle. Griffith used her cannon of an arm to take out the Red Devils' best chance for a score in the bottom of the third.
"She has a heck of an arm, the best arm on the team. When she made the clean play, I knew that girl was in trouble," said Pitt.
"I had the fastest runner on my team going, and unless that ball is a BB, we score. You gotta take a chance," said Springville coach Karl Jensen, who added how impressed he was with the Tooele outfielders, noting that they kept the Buffaloes in the game.
Left fielder Allie Alverson made a couple of diving catches back-to-back in the bottom of the fifth, shortstop Mattie Snow made a great grab and throw in the sixth, and first baseman Brittany Gonzales snatched a line drive and stepped on first base for a double play to end the sixth.
Mariah Jensen and Kandice Kirkham each had a double for the Red Devils, and Clark punched out a pair of singles, but they just couldn't string anything together.
"That game had a little bit of everything in it. That was a great softball game. Those things go either way on a sliver of a play," said Jensen.
"We knew and they knew from the beginning of the season that this game was going to be tough, that it was going to have a playoff atmosphere, and it did," added Pitt.