Bear River senior outfielder Olivia Taylor delivered her own version of a senior gift in a moment that’s gone viral.
Taylor made a crucial defensive stop in Game 2 of the Bears’ 4A state championship series against Tooele, one that helped Bear River earn the victory Saturday in Salt Lake City en route to the Bears taking home the state title.
Here’s how it all played out:
- The Bears, after losing to the Buffaloes 5-0 in Game 1 of the championship series Friday, got off to a strong start in Game 2, adding two runs each in the first and third innings to take a 4-1 lead.
- In the bottom of the fourth, Tooele pitcher Attlyn Johnston stepped up to the plate and launched a deep shot to center field, looking like a sure home run.
- Taylor reacted quickly, though, moving back towards the wall, then leapt over the makeshift fence. Showing an amazing amount of athleticism, Taylor made the catch in her outstretched mitt as she fell over the wall, holding on to the ball as she hit the ground.
“I’ve seen Olivia Taylor make two or three catches this year that were just outstanding,” Bear River head coach Calvin Bingham told the Deseret News on Saturday. “She’s, to me, our MVP. How she goes is how we go. Yesterday she struggled. Today she got going.”
The moment was captured perfectly by KSL, in a video shared on Twitter by sports anchor Sam Farnsworth.
In short order, the play was getting seen around the country, even sparking a debate on social media about whether the play was an out or a home run — considering how Taylor leapt over the fence to make the play.
“Some would say (including this reporter) that Taylor’s catch is legal because her feet were still in play (when she) left the ground,” USA Today’s Sam Bumbaca wrote. “It’s not her fault the fence is constructed that way! Others might say it shouldn’t count since she left the field of play to make the grab.”
USA Today wasn’t the only one taking notice. It landed No. 2 on ESPN SportsCenter’s top 10 plays Saturday night.
And to make it even sweeter? Bear River won Game 2 4-2, then followed that with a 14-6 victory in the decisive Game 3 as the Bears won their first state softball title since 2018.