Box score

Through 11 innings of the 5A state championship series, Spanish Fork’s Nos. 2, 3 and 6 hitters Peyton Hall, Tatum Hall and Paige Pierce had gone a combined 0 for 12 with a couple of walks.

Even though Spanish Fork led the series 1-0 after Thursday’s Game 1 win, it found itself trailing No. 2 seed Bountiful 3-0 in the fifth inning of Friday’s Game 2 with the Redhawks just eight outs away from forcing a decisive Game 3.

The Hall sisters and Pierce changed everything with one swing of the bat each.

Peyton Hall doubled, Pierce homered and then Tatum Hall homered as the Dons scored five runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to rally past Bountiful for the 8-4 victory to claim the the series sweep and their third straight 5A state championship.

Pierce’s home run was the game changer as Bountiful still led 3-2 when she stepped into the box.

Pierce had just missed a deep ball to straightaway center two innings earlier and felt confident in the clutch moment.

“(Bountiful’s pitcher) had been throwing out the entire game, so I just knew if I got on top of the plate and just kept my hands through it was going,” said Pierce about her third home run of the season that cleared the 220-foot center field fence with ease.

An inning later with Spanish Fork leading 5-3, Tatum Hall hit a similar three-run blast to center field for her 12th dinger of the season, stretching the lead to 8-3.

A five-run cushion was more than enough for ace pitcher Avery Sapp to close things out in the top of the seventh inning even though Bountiful tacked on one more run before Alyce Archuleta retired the last out on a pop out to first base.

It was a routine out to end the game, but in a game with nine errors a day after the two teams committed zero errors, there was nothing routine defensively in Game 2.

Sapp finished the game with five strikeouts a day after striking out 12, and even though she said she was a bit tired she pitched a solid game to wrap up her career as a three-time state champ with roughly 650 career strikeouts.

“I was tired, but had to push through. I don’t mind,” said Sapp, who said she even got a battle wound as she was cleated in the heel during the celebration of Pierce’s home run.

Game 2 was scoreless through four innings, but the complexion turned completely in the top of the fifth with Bountiful scoring three runs.

Jaci Alvey got things started with a one-out triple down the left field line and then scored on a single by Melissa Turpin.

Eva Stoddard followed with another single, and during Athena Tongaonevai’s ensuing at-bat, Stoddard seemed to get caught off first base, but the throw to the bag was high and went all the way down the right field line, allowing Turpin and Stoddard to score for the 3-0 lead.

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Bountiful added two more hits, but Sapp made sure the damage was just three runs.

Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis made a mound visit to settle things down during the inning, and she believes it worked.

“We just really needed to regroup, and that’s what we did in the circle. We had a little team regroup, and I think that’s where it changed,” said Jarvis.

Pierce said she felt a little tension in the dugout in between innings, but Sapp believes it was position tension as everyone was excited to make up for the uncharacteristic errors.

“I had no worries, literally no worries. I knew that my players would come back and we’d win it, and we’d fight ‘cause we always fight. We never let down,” said Sapp.

Spanish Fork leadoff hitter Jade Romero was due up first in the last of the fifth, and she hit a sharp grounder to shortstop that was bobbled, allowing Romero to reach base safely, which she did six of eight times in the series.

Tatum Hall struck out on the next at-bat, but her older sister Peyton followed by smashing a double off the right field to score Romero.

Hall then scored on another error on a hard-hit grounder by Sapp to cut the deficit to 3-2, and Archuleta followed with one of her four walks in the series to set the table for Pierce, whose throwing error had allowed two Bountiful runs to score.

“It was little discouraging, but I knew I had to come out on my at-bat and I couldn’t let that get in control of my at-bat,” said Pierce.

She crushed it to straightaway center, giving Spanish Fork a lead it never relinquished.

Spanish Fork plays Bountiful in the 5A softball championship game at the Miller Park Complex in Provo on Friday, May 26, 2023. Spanish Fork won 8-4. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Pierce is a first-year starting catcher who backed up two-year starter Ashlyn Losee. Jarvis could see how dedicated Pierce was to being the starter in the offseason, and she brought a great athleticism to the position this season.

Early in the season the coaching staff handed the task of calling pitches over to Pierce as they were completely comfortable with the partnership between her and Sapp.

“I was really excited for the opportunity. I knew I was a good enough catcher to catch for Avery and we were going to be a great duo this year so I was quite excited to fill the role and show up with Avery,” said Pierce, who said the game against Ridgeline in St. George back in March is when things really started to click between the two.

Prior to Pierce’s home run, Bountiful starter Stoddard had backed up her strong Game 1 performance with another one and through four innings had only allowed one hit.

She’d walked four, but pitched out of jams in the first and second inning to keep the game scoreless.

Two errors in the fifth, though, gave Spanish Fork extra at-bats, and it punished Bountiful for it.

“You never know who’s going to come through,” Jarvis said. “I have a very strong lineup all the way through.

“Some days it was the end of my lineup, some days the middle, some days the top, and today it just took a little bit of everybody to make this happen.”