A year ago at this time, Jade Romero had just graduated from middle school and was celebrating with family in Southern Utah on a camping jaunt. There was no cell phone service at site, but she had Spanish Fork softball on her mind and insisted a couple times they go find cell service so she could log on and see what happened in the 5A softball state championship.
She was thrilled to see that Spanish Fork beat Mountain Ridge easily both days, especially knowing many of those girls would be her future teammates.
Spanish Fork’s Natalie Jarvis has known for many years that softball junkie Jade Romero would eventually be her starting shortstop, it was only a matter of time. That time is now for the freshman, and it’s a big reason why Spanish Fork is now one win away from a repeat 5A state championship.
The youngster set the table for the Dons throughout Game 1 of the best-of-3 5A state championship series at BYU on Thursday, going 3 for 3 with a sac fly and four RBIs as Spanish Fork drilled Lehi 15-2 for the victory in five innings.
“I was very pumped and excited, and ready to go win it. I had so much adrenaline going. I was just so excited to be here,” said Romero, who led off the game with a single and then scored two batters later when Peyton Hall doubled off the top of the fence.
The rout was pretty much on from there. Spanish Fork scored twice in the first, six more times in both the second and third inning and then once more in the fourth, and that was enough run support to last Avery Sapp for an entire season, much less one game.
“I think we just showed up to play and showed up to hit the ball, and you can see that, we scored every inning and they adjusted very well. They adjusted to the other pitcher very well,” said Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis.
Every batter but one got base hit for the Dons, including No. 9 hitter Ellie Olson who went 3 for 3 with a single, double, triple and two RBIs.
Spanish Fork catcher Ashlyn Losee went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and called another outstanding game behind the plate for Sapp, who struck out five Lehi batters in the win.
“I think our batting just came out firing on all cylinders. Everyone was doing their job, whether it was putting bunts down or getting line drives in the gaps and I think that makes a huge difference especially early on in the game,” said Losee.
It started early in the game with Romero getting on base and putting pressure on Lehi’s defense. Then defensively she’s usually good for taking away one or two base hits, which included a sure single up the middle Lehi with bases at the corners and two out. Instead, Romero cut off the angle and kept the lead at 14-2.
“Some of those plays that would be base hits, she takes away those base hits and I think that is absolutely critical to us,” said Losse.
Romero actually started the season at second base, but it wasn’t until after a 4-3 start to the season which included some losses to quality teams in St. George that Jarvis made the position switch.
It had more so to do with moving Peyton Hall from shortstop to third base to get some speed at the corners defensively, but Jarvis was always very comfortable making the move knowing Romero was just as talented at shortstop as Hall.
“She’s just here to play ball, she knows no different. She’s just that kid that’s going to get dirty and doesn’t care, and doesn’t care if she gets hurt. She’s going all out all the time,” said Jarvis.
Spanish Fork will look to wrap up the title on Friday at 11 a.m. for Game 2 of the championship series. If Lehi wins, and Game 3 would necessary later on Friday.
It will be a tough ask for Lehi, who only mustered up two hits off Sapp in Game 1. It did score more runs against Sapp than any of the previous three teams in the playoffs — which was zero — so if it slows the Dons bats perhaps the second game will be more competitive.