SPANISH FORK — Tooele's 1-0 win over Bear River on Friday reads a lot closer than it actually played out in what was the final game of the no-loss bracket in the 4A softball playoffs. The reason was primarily due to the performance of sophomore pitcher Attlyn Johnston, who worked to almost completely shut down the Bears' otherwise prolific offense.
"Attlyn always comes through in big games and she's been like that since she was a freshman," said Tooele coach Marissa Lowry. "I'm proud of her and I'm proud of our teams and how they came out. Bear River is a great team, so I knew it was going to come down to one run."
Johnston was on point from the very start and finished with 14 strikeouts while keeping Bear River batters off-balance throughout. The sophomore fanned her first six batters and then ended the game by scoring consecutive strikeouts.
In between all of it was an afternoon where the Bears never seriously threatened to score while proving uncomfortable with what was being pitched to them while at the plate.
"A lot of people think they know what I throw, but they really don't," Johnston said. "I know I have to hit spots with every batter, knowing what they can and they can't hit, so that's what I focus on."
Even when the Bears made solid contact on Johnston's pitches, her defense backed her up in impressive fashion.
Take the lone hit of the game yielded by Johnston, to which a quick 4-6-3 double play immediately ended the threat. Another instance saw Madi Baker snare down a line drive that appeared to be headed to the outfield for an out that helped Johnston put together another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth.
"Madi Baker is definitely my super star, all year long. I love Madi Baker," Johnston said. "And everyone else did a great job, too."
As for Johnston's one-hit effort with 14 strikeouts in seven innings, her coach wasn't surprised in the least.
"It's just kind of what she does," Lowry said. "She's just a work horse. She'll go out and … just (work), even after games where she's pitched. She's just always working hard to get better."Comment on this story
Tooele's one run came in the bottom of the third, when a passed ball allowed the runner to score from third base.
With the win, the Buffaloes advance to the final day of competition as the last remaining team with no losses. They'll square off against the winner of Spanish Fork versus Bear River in the championship, needing just one win to take the title in the double-elimination format.
"A lot of people underestimated us coming into this tournament, so I'm just really excited for them to see that we can do this," Johnston said.