Spanish Fork’s double-digit win streak over Springville nearly came to an end on Thursday afternoon in a tight game between the softball rivals.
As it often does, the tension began with a dropped pop up on what would’ve been the third out of the fifth inning, and Springville made the most of the extra out by squirreling three straight RBI singles between third and shortstop to cut Spanish Fork’s lead to 4-3.
Springville put the tying runner on base in both the sixth and seventh inning, but Spanish Fork ace Avery Sapp made clutch pitches when she needed to late to ensure the Dons held on for the victory, their 11th straight over Springville.
“Rival games like that, they’re a lot more fun and they bring more energy to the table,” said Sapp, who finished with 12 strikeouts in another commanding performance in the circle for the reigning 5A Player of the Year.
Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis was particularly pleased with the passion her players showed throughout the game.
“Lately we’ve just really worked on passion and fight. That’s kind of our word, to fight for everything. That’s what they’ve done, and they know that,” said Jarvis.
That passion reached a fever pitch in the sixth inning after Sapp struck out three straight batters to end the inning and strand Caroline Simpson at second base after her leadoff double.
Sapp screamed and pumped her fist knowing how important keeping the one-run lead was.
“Once I noticed this is serious situation, I’ve got to actually step up my game a little bit, I put more energy onto myself and I let my adrenaline help me out,” said Sapp.
In the seventh inning, Springville leadoff hitter Tyler Haveron reached base on a one-out single — she finished the game 3 for 4 — to apply the pressure on Spanish Fork.
The situation wasn’t that dissimilar to a tournament game down in St. George earlier this year in which Spanish Fork had a one-run lead on Ridgeline heading into the bottom of the seventh only to lose it on a hit up the middle.
There was a bit of deja vu on Thursday when Springville’s Emma Liddiard lined a two-out laser right back toward Sapp.
The junior pitcher reacted quickly enough to get a glove on the ball before it sailed over her head into the outfield.
She didn’t make the initial catch, but knocked it down right behind her as she quickly made the throw to first for the final out.
Sapp said smiling, “I actually didn’t panic as I usually do.”
As expected, the reaction to the final out was as electric as Sapp’s three straight Ks.
“The passion of the game, it doesn’t getter any better to see that,” said Jarvis.
Sapp brought the fireworks at the plate, too. She obliterated a third-inning fastball, crushing it roughly 50 feet past the centerfield wall for a two-run homer that pushed the lead to 4-0.
It would’ve been a three-run shot, but Spanish Fork’s Peyton Hall was thrown out at second base after her RBI single trying to take an extra base.
Spanish Fork leadoff hitter Jade Romero accounted for two of her team’s six hits, something Jarvis said needs to be better going forward.
“We struggled up to bat. I’m not going to lie, we did struggle. Poor pitch choices, things we need to make some adjustments so we’re ready for them next time,” said Jarvis.
With the win, Spanish Fork improved to 12-3 on the season and 4-0 in Region 9 play.