SPANISH FORK The Broncos huddled in the dugout hoping, praying and wishing that they weren't about to witness the end of their championship dreams.
"Relief," said San Juan pitcher Generra Nielson of the hit from sophomore Briona Laws, which drove in the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning of the 2A semifinals Friday. "We were in the dugout and some of us were staying we were going to throw up; we couldn't even watch; we were saying prayers. We were stressed."
They were also victorious in an extra-inning thriller in which Nielson hit a sacrifice fly that scored the winning run. San Juan's 2-1 victory means Nielson will play for a 2A state title for the second time in her very successful high school career. Whether they will face Manti or Juab, however, is yet to be decided. Those two teams square off at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"I don't care who we play, as long as we win," said Nielson, who earned 13 strike outs against Juab and 15 strike outs in the Broncos' 5-1 victory over Grand earlier Friday.
It was Nielson who provided the game-winning hit when she came to bat with the bases loaded and one out. She hit a long fly ball to center field, which scored Laws, who had started on second as per the international tie-break rule.
"What a spot to be in," said San Juan head coach Craig Swenson. "For (Nielson), it's what she's worked for. She's really learned to control her bat. ... I wouldn't want the ball in anyone else's hands."
Nielson said she was nervous, but thrives on the pressure.
"It doesn't bother me when the bases are loaded," she said. "I love the pressure."
She did, however, feel a little uneasy when the Wasps scored in the second inning. Britan Ashworth got on base with a single and then Nikki Kramer hit a double, but was tagged out on the play. Ashworth scored before the out giving the Wasps a 1-0 advantage for most of the game.
Amy Johnson threw a solid game for Juab with seven strike outs and the Wasp defense only had two errors, which unfortunately came in the last two innings.
Juab coach Alley Gee said the team's come from behind 9-7 win against defending 2A champion Manti and then the near win against Juab just shows what the Wasps are made of.
"It's all heart," she said with a smile. "I love every one of them. They've had this in them all year."
Manti had to win two games Friday after losing in the winner's bracket game to Juab. The Templars earned the chance to avenge that loss Saturday morning with a 9-2 win over region-rival South Sevier.
Nielson said it doesn't matter which team the Broncos play, they know they have their work cut out for them."They're both good teams," she said with a shrug. "We just want to win."
E-mail: [email protected]