"I don't believe it. I'm on cloud nine right now," Riverton standout pitcher Jordan Lockhart said.
Riverton beat West 13-11 in the Class 5A title game on Thursday, one day after rallying for six runs in the seventh to beat the Panthers. This time, it was the bottom of the seventh and Eakle's home run capped a five-run final inning.
"I'm always looking for that perfect pitch in those types of situations," said Eakle, who hit a grand slam against West the day before. "Those first two [strikes from Panthers' pitcher Shayna Alofipo] weren't just what I wanted. That last one was just money — the one I had been looking for all day."
For Lockhart, the day was a strange blend of cheerleading activity capped by her usual heroics. Riverton's usual ace pitcher was held in reserve for that role after her fast offerings were measured — and then belted — by West in the early innings of the first meeting.
Instead, it was sophomore Eryn Williams and then freshman Payton Anderson who held down the pitching duties until Lockhart entered in the top of the sixth. And, on the batting end, the Silverwolves' senior struck out in her first appearance and then contented herself with drawing two walks until she came up in the sixth.
That's when Lockhart crushed a ball deep over the center-field fence for two runs as Riverton (24-5) cut the West (28-5) advantage to 10-8.
"I was just cheering and staying in it pitch by pitch, being ready to go in at all times," said Lockhart, who finished the game by not allowing a West hit although issuing two walks in her inning-and-two-thirds of work. "I was watching her [Riverton coach Katelyn Elliott] look around, saying, 'I'm ready' and then waiting for the next time."
"I knew we were deep in pitching and I told them, at the beginning, 'We're going to use all of you,' " said Elliott, who had played on the Spanish Fork state championship team in 2006. "That's the greatest game ever."
West, which eliminated Taylorsville 11-8 earlier in the day, never stopped hitting throughout the tournament. Alopino, for instance, stroked a pair of doubles from her ninth spot in the hitting order.
The Panthers also got a spectacular defensive play from center fielder Keisha White, who ended the fifth inning by leaping high to snag a drive by Riverton's HailyJo Hanson and dove over the fence — while still holding on to the ball.
"They bring a new meaning of leaving everything out on the field," West coach Keith Lopati said. "They left it out and played their hearts out.
"They've set a great foundation for our program with the young nucleus that we have," he added.