"What a great game. What a great game," said Bear River coach Calvin Bingham. "That's what fast-pitch softball is all about. I'm really happy for these kids. They've worked so hard. This has been one of the most enjoyable years I've ever had coaching. This is sweet."
In the bottom of the seventh, Bear River's Dacia Hobbs unintentionally bunted on a check-swing, and as Juab's defense fumbled to recover, Kapri Toone rounded the bases and beat the throw back to the plate to force extra innings.
After preventing the Wasps from scoring in the eighth, with an awarded runner at second — per high school softball extra-inning rules — nine-hole hitter Lynsey Valverde attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance her teammate to third, but the ball escaped the infield to complete the Bears' comeback.
"I saw them crashing in hard, and I knew I had to put it down," Valverde explained. "I saw it go out there, and I was like, 'Yeah!' I knew we had it."
Juab's Taylei Williams, considered the top pitcher in the classification and one of the best overall players in the state, pitched 13 consecutive shutout innings, having led the Wasps, who were attempting to win their first championship in school history, to a 3-0 victory against Tooele in the prior game.
Williams, who Bingham said was "outstanding," finished with six strikeouts and allowed four hits — two of which occurred in the second frame, as she retired 11 straight batters spanning the second to seventh innings.
Toone, Bear River's sophomore pitcher who threw a perfect game in the first round, held her own in the pitchers' duel, but she relied on the support of her defense to escape two bases-loaded jams in the sixth and seventh innings. She allowed 10 hits, including two doubles to Rylee Bryan, who drove in the Wasps' lone run in the third.
"I'm glad that our team pulled through and held it together," said Toone, who noted the strong finish came down to "confidence and execution."
The Bears won both games against Juab — in the semifinals and the finals — by the score of 2-1 despite being out-hit 16-5. It was the first title for the Bears, who lost in the championship last year, since winning five straight from 2008-12.
"It doesn't feel real yet," Valverde said. "It feels good to be a champion. Man, does this feel good."