Riverton softball takes out COVID frustrations on Bingham, wins 6A state championship

Motivated to make up for lost 2020 season, Silverwolves prevail with yet another one-run win over Miners. Spanish Fork gets ticker-tape parade for making short work of Mountain Ridge in 5A championship.

(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) Riverton players douse head coach Katelyn Elliott with water after the Silverwolves defeated the Bingham Miners in a best-of-three series to win the 6A state softball championship at the Spanish Fork Sports Park on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Spanish Fork • Chloe Borges started charging across Field 2 at the Spanish Fork Sports Complex even before second baseman Lilly Heitz could fire the ball she fielded to first baseman Kyli Carrel for the final out.

The lone Riverton High senior on the field had waited long enough to celebrate winning the 6A Utah State High School softball championship with her Wolves teammates. One whole extra season, in fact, thanks to COVID-19. Waiting even another second would have been torture.

So when Bingham sophomore Charity Drake hit the ball straight at Heitz with two outs in the top of the seventh and the top-seeded Silverwolves leading 4-3, Borges bolted.

“It was unreal,” said Borges, a center fielder who will play for the University of Hawaii next spring. “I knew Lil had it. I was already running in before she threw the ball. I knew we could count on her for that out.”

The win gave Riverton (24-1) its first state title since 2016 and the second for seventh-year head coach Katelyn Elliott and her assistant and former University of Utah and Spanish Forks teammate Whitney Sharrar.

The Silverwolves handed Region 3 rival Bingham (25-4) all four of their losses this season. They won each of the last three — including Thursday’s first game in the best-of-three championship series — by a single run.

(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) Riverton players celebrate around the championship trophy after defeating the Bingham Miners in a best-of-three series to win the 6A state softball championship at the Spanish Fork Sports Park on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Bingham coach Mikki Jackson acknowledged the frustration in coming so close so often. But she said with both teams being so young, she’s expecting even more showdowns in seasons to come.

“Each time we got tougher, and they got tougher as well,” Jackson said. “They were just better than us today and yesterday.”

She added, “When you get beat four times, you know, they’re getting the job done. They’re a great group of girls over there and great players. They’ve got great sticks, one through nine.”

Riverton showed off that batting ability when it jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third. The Silverwolves scored on a two-run home run and an RBI single from sophomore Jolie Mayfield and a bomb to deep center field by Heitz, a freshman.

But Bingham swatted back in the top of the next inning when Shelbee Jones got on base with a single with two outs. Utah State-bound senior Emily Dority joined her after her hit to third base slipped through the fielder’s glove. Then Utah Valley-bound senior Averi Hanny brought them home with a home run to right field.

Thanks in large part to the mound work of Riverton junior Kaysen Korth (7 inn., 3R, 2H, 1E) and Bingham’s Jones (1 ⅔ inn., 0R, 1H, 1BB), neither team scored again.

Elliott said given the challenges of having both nail-biters like their games against Bingham and numerous blowouts — the Silverwolves outscored teams 31-1 in the state playoffs before taking on the Miners — she had been having her girls work on mental strength as much as physical strength. But the real driver for the team that entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in the state, the coach said, was the pent-up frustration the players felt after their season was unexpectedly canceled last season because of the coronavirus.

“They were extra hungry after getting their season canceled last year,” Elliott said. “They wanted it. They wanted to come show what they have.”

Borges confirmed that. She transferred from Kearns to Riverton her junior year and said she knew right away that her team had what it takes to win it all. But she had to wait an extra year to see it.

Spanish Fork routs Mountain Ridge for 5A title

(Isaac Hale | Special to The Tribune) Spanish Fork pitcher Avery Sapp (5) winds up a pitch during the second game of a best-of-three series between the Spanish Fork Lady Dons and the Mountain Ridge Sentinels as part of the 5A state softball championship held at the Spanish Fork Sports Park on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Spanish Fork had enough time for a cruise around town — atop a fire engine and with a police escort — after it won the 5A state softball championship Friday at the Spanish Fork Sports Complex.

It took just five innings and about an hour for the Dons (31-1), the No. 2-ranked team in the state according to MaxPreps.com, to hand Mountain Ridge a 13-2 loss. The Dons also beat the Sentinels in five innings, 14-3, Thursday to win the best-of-three series. It is their first state title since winning back-to-back championships in the 4A bracket in 2016 and 2017.

Spanish Fork’s only loss this season came to Tooele in April. It also handed 6A champion Riverton its only loss of the season.

The Dons opened the championship with an eight-run first inning jn which Trinity Benson, Brooklyn Pintas, Kiley Mitchell Ashlyn Losee, Peyton Hall, Avery Sapp and Aubree Leonard all drove in runs. Leonard, Sapp, Hall and Pintas all hit home runs for Spanish Fork, which added four runs in the second inning and another in the third. Altogether, the Dons generated 13 runs on 11 hits and four errors.

Sapp, a sophomore, took the win for the Dons after allowing Mountain Ridge (25-4) just two runs in the fourth. Those were scored on back-to-back solo home runs by juniors Tasha Hokanson and Mylee Milne.

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