The game for us is not over until the third out of the seventh inning. —Springville's Natalie Sumsion
TAYLORSVILLE — As a sophomore, Natalie Sumsion had the chance to be a hero in the 4A state softball tournament.
Instead, she provided the opportunity for another player to make a game-winning play.
She hit was should have been a home run that carried her team into the state championship game, but a center fielder from Maple Mountain “robbed” her by making a game-saving catch for the Golden Eagles.
That was, of course, on the mind of the self-described “over-thinker” as she walked to the plate Tuesday evening with two outs and the game-winning run on first base.
“I mean, insanity,” she said after hitting the single that scored the game-winning run to beat Uintah 5-4 in the quarterfinals of the 4A state softball tournament Tuesday. “I’ve had so many experiences like that. It’s unreal, and I guess you just kind of keep telling yourself, you just have to keep going.”
The Red Devils' victory over Uintah — their first this season against their Region 8 rivals — proved a lot of basic princples coaches try to drill into every player’s heart and mind. In fact, their upset of the Utes proved the theory that top-ranked Spanish Fork coach Don Andrews asserted just a couple of hours earlier on the same field.
He said that the more often teams play each other, the more familiar they become, and therefore, the more likely that the underdog will pull off an upset. The tournament is the perfect place for underdogs to work their magic.
“I mean, we’re the comeback kids,” Sumsion said, her hands still shaking from the excitement of the win. “Our first round of state, we came back from down 1-6, and ended up winning 10-9. It’s insanity. The game for us is not over until the third out of the seventh inning.”
The game was exciting from the start. The Utes scored a run in the first inning, and then scored again in the third inning, which came after Whitnee Alexander, who went 3 for 3 with a walk, hit a double and then scored on Kassidy Callahan’s single.
Springville scored four runs to take the lead in the fourth, but then the Utes scored in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game. The Red Devils’ defense held the Utes in the top of the seventh, and then it was just a matter of finding a way to score a single run.
It didn’t look promising after the first two batters came up empty. But then leadoff batter Sadie Clark got on base on an error.
Sumsion then came to bat, and at one point, tossed her bat aside and began jogging to first base because she said she’d been hit by a pitch. The umpire called her back to home, but not before pinch runner, Linsey Robinson, advanced to second, on what was a controversial steal.
Two pitches later, Sumsion hit a grounder that was cleanly fielded and thrown to first. She saw the official call her safe, and then she saw her teammate cross home plate for the game-winning run.
“(Robinson) was already almost around third by the time the ball was at first base,” Thackeray said. “She’s got wheels. I did see her called safe, and then I looked to make sure (Robinson) was close to home, and once I knew she was close enough, that’s when I took off running like a crazy person.”
She expected there would be a throw home, but it didn’t come as Uintah’s fielders clearly thought they’d gotten the third out, which would have sent the game into extra innings.
“Honestly, I don’t know what just happened,” she said. “I mean, I hit the bag, and I saw the motion safe, and I just turned around to see my speed-up crossing home. I couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. It was just, like, joy.”
The victory means Springville will get a shot at upsetting another Region 8 rival — top-ranked Spanish Fork — in Wednesday’s semifinal at 3 p.m.