Being at the bottom of a state championship dogpile is painful.
For Chloe Woods, a few bruises and five-ish seconds of suffocation was well worth it for being the walk-off hero at BYU on Friday.
Woods’ bases-loaded single in the bottom of the sixth inning clinched Riverton’s 11-1 victory over West as the Silverwolves completed the series sweep to repeat as 6A state softball champs.
There was a delayed celebration as Woods stood on first base — and all of her teammates stood anxiously on the third base line — waiting for the ump to raise his hands and signal the end of the game via the 10-run rule.
In that moment, Woods had that “uh-oh” feeling knowing her teammates would all be jumping on her.
“I was so excited, but I was little bit nervous I’m not going to lie. I got dogpiled and I was at the very bottom,” said Woods.
A senior, Woods finished the day going 2 for 3, and she’s done damage like that out of the No. 9 hole in Riverton’s stacked batting order all season.
It’s something coach Katelyn Elliott has praised often for being one of the strengths of the team.
So it was only fitting that Woods hit the walk-off single as the Silverwolves wrapped up the 28-1 season.
“I knew that in that moment I had to execute and I had to keep my nerves down in order to do so. I did what I could and ended it the right way,” said Woods.
“One through nine, every single player will come up and do their job and even being No. 9, it’s an honor to be a part of the lineup and be a part of this team.”
During Riverton’s dominant seven-game playoff run, it outscored the opposition 78-1. That only run conceded was unearned, against West in the fifth inning Friday.
The fact it was unearned means ace pitcher Kaysen Korth finished the playoffs with a 0.00 ERA and 56 strikeouts.
Ten of those strikeouts came on Friday, which was all the more impressive considering she was applying super glue to her bloody finger in between innings to stop the bleeding from a large blood blister that had formed yesterday and then popped in the first inning.
It hurt for all 93 of her pitches, especially her riseball which rolled right off the wound. The super glue couldn’t number the pain, just stop the bleeding.
Korth also had a 3-for-3 day at the plate with a walk and two RBIs as she helped her own cause batting third in the lineup.
“She’s just as much of a weapon offensively and she is defensively, and mentally to be able to play both sides of the ball so well is a big mental strength, especially when maybe you’re not having a day pitching or having a day hitting,” Elliott said.
“She never lets both slide. She brings it on both sides of the ball for sure.”
Korth got the scoring going early for Riverton with an RBI single in the first inning for the 1-0 lead.
Two batters later, Kylee Ruesch tripled in two more and then she scored on an RBI groundout from Mariyah Delgado as the ‘Wolves jumped ahead 4-0 after the first.
Riverton tacked on two more runs in the second on an RBI triple from Alexis Shaver and then another Korth RBI single.
West pitcher Rita Tavita settled in over the next three innings to keep her team within striking distance. Granted, six runs against Korth and her 0.57 season-long ERA is a massive hurdle, but West kept battling.
The Panthers scored their lone run in the fifth inning as Brooklyn Tapusoa ripped a double down the line to score a runner who reached on a throwing error to start the inning.
Just as an error allowed West to score its only run, it allowed Riverton to kick start its big sixth inning as lead-off hitter Tessa Hogue’s chopper to third forced an errant throw to first.
Hogue scored on Shaver’s double the very next at-bat, and then after a Korth walk, Jolie Mayfield brought everyone home as she laced a line drive opposite field and over the fence for the three-run homer.
Mayfield finished the season with 19 home runs and state-leading 65 RBIs.
Her homer stretched the lead to 10-1, but Riverton still needed one more run to end the game early.
Another error, a hit batter and then a walk set the table for Woods.
As the team celebrated, Elliott reflected on the culture within the team and how important it’s been to the success.
“Kaysen and Jolie and those leaders, they never belittle anybody, nobody is ever beneath them. They put their arm around those that are younger than them and bring them along with them,” Elliott said.
“That’s what you see in our team. Nobody is carrying equipment because they’re a freshman, everybody is carrying the load on this team and that’s led by Jolie, Kaysen, Lexi (Shaver) and Chloe and our upperclassmen. They are phenomenal and they carry themselves so well off the field and on field. They’re so humble, yet so good,” said Elliott in response to her final question from the media amid the celebration on BYU’s field.
Elliott then immediately walked over to Korth and presented her the game ball. It was only fitting as Korth finished her career with 467 strikeouts in 297 innings pitched. Who knows how many more she might’ve finished with had COVID-19 not canceled her sophomore season.
That was the furthest thing from the Weber State signee’s mind as she celebrated with teammates.
“Back to back is just so hard, everybody knows that you’re good so they come out wanting to play their best game against you,” she said.
“Having everybody play their best game definitely puts a lot of pressure on you.”