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Avery Sapp’s pitching motion pushes the envelope between legal and illegal pitch nearly every time she steps in the circle. It often isn’t called, but the umps were calling it quite often Friday in Game 2 of the 5A state championship series.

Sapp simply shrugged it off, and executed the next pitch.

When she’s doing that, Sapp is nearly unhittable and Lehi learned that for the second straight game on Friday. The junior mowed down 10 Lehi batters and only allowed three hits as Spanish Fork beat Lehi 4-0 to sweep the best-of-3 series and claim its second straight state championship.

“I’ve been going through that my whole life. I just believe in myself and trust my defense,” said Sapp, who finished the season with a 21-3 record and 258 strikeouts.

In Spanish Fork’s seven state tournament wins she struck out 79 batters and only allowed 17 hits.

With most of its starters back from last season, Spanish Fork was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as state champion. The players never let the burden of those expectations weigh them down and rolled through region play and then the 5A playoffs to win that second title.

“I think we all came together and we knew we had to work together and we had to put a little more effort in and a little more fight. We just came together and worked for it,” said Sapp.

In Game 1 on Friday, Spanish Fork pounded Lehi for the 15-2 victory, but in Game 2 Lehi went with Grace Humes in the circle and she made things much more difficult for the Spanish Fork lineup with her ability to paint the outside corners.

Sapp finally started to get a bit of run support in the third inning as Peyton Hall ripped a triple to right field to drive in Tatum Hall, whose two-out double put her in scoring position.

Tatum Hall has been the toughest out in the Spanish Fork lineup all season and it honestly hasn’t been that close as her batting average is nearly .100 more than anyone else on her team and her on-base percentage is .122 better.

Two innings after she helped Spanish Fork grabbed the 1-0 lead, the sophomore blasted a home run to left field to push the lead to 3-0 as she finished the game going 2 for 2 with a double, home run and two RBIs, including a sacrifice bunt in the first inning.

“I was just overwhelmed. I was just so happy. I’m not really like a big home run hitter, I usually just hit straight line drives. Being able to hit that for my team to win just felt really great,” said Tatum Hall, who finished the year batting .632 with a staggering .705 on-base percentage.

There were two runners on base when Tatum Hall ripped her fourth home run of the season, but one of the runners was called out after being redirected and grabbed by a coach. It really didn’t matter with the way Sapp was pitching.

High school softball: Freshman Jade Romero helps Spanish Fork rout Lehi in Game 1 of 5A championship series

Spanish Fork eventually pushed that fourth run across on a fielding error in right field in the sixth inning.

Sapp credited the camaraderie within the team as the biggest key to this season’s success.

“We practice a lot, we put a lot of hard work in, we have a lot of team building activities and I think we all grew more as friends and we all started trusting each other, that way we could come together as a team,” said Sapp.

Pickleball was her favorite team-building activity. Two weeks before the state tournament instead of holding practice one day, Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis just had her team play a pickleball tournament.

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Sapp and Emmie Olson won the tournament, and this is where perhaps the only divisiveness might exist within Spanish Fork’s dugout. Tatum Hall claims to be the best pickleball player on the team, and blames the pairings as to why she didn’t win that championship.

“That wasn’t my bad, she had a good teammate to carry her,” joked Tatum Hall. “I love playing pickleball, I love beating people. I am very competitive.”

Asked to clarify who the true best is, Peyton Hall said without a doubt it’s Tatum, “Avery just thinks she’s good.”

Those are fighting words that might require another team tournament this Memorial Day weekend, and the tension may ultimately be higher than what Spanish Fork experienced in its dominant run to the 5A state championship. The Dons won their seven state tournament games by a 73-9 margin.

Spanish Fork’s Avery Sapp pitches against Lehi in the 5A softball state championship at Miller Park in Provo on Friday, May 27, 2022. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
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