Spanish Fork • Constant early morning workouts and a history of near misses is a combo that could really wear on a person.
But if that person happened to be a Manti softball player Saturday afternoon in Spanish Fork, it was all worth it in the end.
The Manti Templars grabbed gold in Class 3A softball by beating South Summit 13-0 behind an early run outburst and the shutout pitching of Tiffany Hermansen.
It was the sixth overall championship for the Templars under veteran coach Susan Hatch and 11th overall for Manti.
“She’s definitely a stickler with softball. She definitely pushes us to our full potential,” said Hermanson of her coach. “We wake up at 5 a.m. almost every week, doing early-morning weekends. Susan believes in us, she pushes us to our max.
“And this is our last year, so we did it for our coach.”
A year ago, Manti fell twice to Grantsville on the last day of the season — falling 6-5 in the winner-take-all contest to finish the tournament.
Likewise in 2019, Manti entered the final day needing to win only once. And the Templars that year again lost twice to Grantsville to ruin their hopes.
“We came up second last year, we came up second the year before COVID (the championships were not held in 2020). So they were like, we’re done, we want this,” said Hatch of her players, seven of whom were seniors this time around. “You can see how strong 3A was, so it was just showing that we were competing with the best.”
Manti (22-9) didn’t give South Summit much of a chance on Saturday.
South Summit (20-10) gave itself an opportunity by beating Grand County 6-3 on Saturday morning. But after the Wildcats didn’t score against Hermanson in the first inning, Manti exploded for six runs in the bottom of the frame.
The rally started with a single by Madison Scottorn. Senior Kathrine Couch then singled in a pair of runs just before Rylee Jarvis, another senior, punched in another run with a sharp single up the middle. Before the first inning was over, HayLee Daniels lofted a seeing-eye single into shallow left for a 4-0 lead just before senior Haddon Taylor hit a similar ball into center to score two more.
Manti would then register four runs in the second inning and cap the scoring with three more in the fourth.
The Templars, as in 2021 and 2019, entered the day with an obvious advantage — only having to win a single game. This time, the proceedings never entered the so-called “if game” phase.
“We kind of prepared all night. It was just kind of a theme we wanted all year. After every cheer, after every practice, we said, ‘Manti Templars, take state,’” said first baseman Ashley Rasmussen, who ended the contest with a spectacular dive-and-catch of a ball in foul ground. “It was tough in the beginning, but we worked our butts off.”
It had already been a long, long day for Duchesne junior Kelsey Grant. And, 21 innings of pitching later, one of Grant’s teammates extended it a little bit longer.
Not that Grant minded at all, though, seeing sophomore Jailey Farnsworth yank a ball over the left field fence for a seventh-inning home run. It was a run that tied the Eagles with Enterprise 4-4 in the Class 2A championship game.
“When she hit that one, I knew it was gone,” Grant said. “I just ran out of the dugout literally screaming. When that happened I knew that we could do this. We could win this game.”
Four batters after Farnsworth’s blow, the game was over and Duchesne had secured the 2A title with a 5-4 win. Grant scored the winning run after doubling to get on base and then was driven in by Hallie Nielsen, who hit a walk-off RBI single that dropped into left-centerfield.
“I thought for a sec (that the Enterprise outfielders would get to it), but I saw that it was in the gap,” Nielsen said. “My first base coach told me that it was down and it felt really good.”
Duchesne (27-7), which had lost only a day before to Enterprise (24-9), started the day by beating Millard to get another chance at the Wolves. Enterprise needed to win only one game to take the 2A crown in the double-elimination tournament, but Duchesne won the first game on Saturday 2-1 behind RBI hits from Lexi Morlan and Nielsen in the fourth inning.
In the finale, Enterprise scored a run in the top of the first before the Eagles bounced back for three of their own in the bottom of the frame — the big blows courtesy of Nielsen’s two-run double and a run-scoring single by Kaydence Crum.
The Wolves got a run back in the third and then took the lead in the sixth thanks largely to some shaky Duchesne fielding and singles from Madeline Grob and Treshor Phelps. Enterprise pitcher Blakelee Christiansen then held on the one-run lead in the sixth despite giving up a couple of singles.
But everything changed thanks to Farnsworth’s crushing blow to open the seventh.
“I was just thinking that I need to get on base right now, I need to get on base,” Farnsworth said. “It really does feel like a dream.”
It was the first state softball championship for Duchesne, but even more than that.
“I tell you what these girls are resilient. They battled and battled,” Duchesne coach Kyle Grant said. “First girls championship in any sport at our school, right here.
“It’s just huge for our school and huge for these girls,” he added.
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