SPANISH FORK — Tooele is a team generally defined by its youth in featuring many standout sophomore and junior players, although the finishing touches of Saturday's championship win were made by one of the team's two seniors. Hope Weight, playing second base for the final time in her prep career, was primarily responsible for the game's final three outs in the Buffaloes' 3-1 win over Spanish Fork for the 4A softball championship.
"That made me so happy," said Tooele star sophomore pitcher Attlyn Johnston. "Knowing it was her last game — it's just great that she'll now get that memory now leaving Tooele High."
Weight, Johnston and the rest of the Buffaloes celebrated earnestly after the final out, which was a far cry from how they left the field just over two hours earlier.
Heavily favored going into the final day of tournament competition, Tooele showed some uncharacteristic nerves late in its first game versus the Dons, leading to a sloppy sixth inning which featured four runs yielded on four errors made. The result was Spanish Fork taking a 5-2 win and forcing a second game while dealing the Buffaloes their only loss to 4A competition on the year.
Fortunately Tooele coach Marissa Lowry knew how to deal with the uncommon situation.
"I just told them to have a short memory," Lowry said. "We're here to win it and the only team that can beat you is yourself, so we just had to go out and play the game we have all year."
A lot of Tooele's style relies heavily on Johnston, who has been lights-out from the pitching circle throughout the season and particularly in the postseason. While solid throughout the first game, the fielding behind her let her down, which made the collective effort put forth in the final game ultimately more satisfying than otherwise.
"Spanish Fork is a great team, so to beat a team of that high quality is great," Lowry said. "They played a great game. ... I told them as soon as the first game was over that it was going to come down to plays like (Weight's), and you have to make those star plays."
Weight's first out recorded came by way of her snagging a screaming liner before it reached the outfield, leading to loud cheers from the Tooele faithful. The next two outs came by way of the senior perfectly fielding ground balls and throwing the runner out.
From the plate it was two runs scored in the top of the second inning, with Bryerly Avina highlighting the effort with an RBI double. Then it was Emma Higley slapping through an RBI single to give the Buffaloes a 3-0 lead in the very next inning.
"I'm just happy that we played as a team and this is the best day of my life," Weight said while surrounded by media in between her post-championship celebrations. "It's not just one person. It's the whole team. ... This is the best feeling ever."Comment on this story
As mentioned, Tooele is defined by its youth, which could very well indicate other championship trophies given out to the program in the near future. But for Saturday, it was all about the current team and the somewhat unexpected adversity it needed to overcome late to win it all.
"We have such a young team, but they're all leaders," Lowry said. "It's been fun to see and I'm so proud of them. I'm so grateful for all of them and I couldn't ask for anything else. They work hard every day and the results show from it."