The wait wasn’t nearly as long, but the outcome was just as sweet for the Spanish Springs High softball team.
After winning its first two games of the tourney, the Cougars defeated Douglas 6-2 to capture the 4A state softball title Saturday at Bishop Manogue. It’s the second title in three years for Spanish Springs, who defeated the very same Tiger team five days earlier to win the regional championship in the continuation of a suspended game from May 12.
“I’m so happy and proud of this team, it’s quite an accomplishment,” said Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson. “This is the most fun group of girls I’ve coached and they worked hard all year. It was a total team effort.”
A big part of that team effort was star pitcher Tyra Clary, who picked up a win and went the distance in each of the state tournament games. The sophomore’s seven innings of two run ball in the championship game was even more impressive due to the fact that she took a ball off her leg in the first inning inning and limped back out in the second before going the distance. Clary was also hit in her non pitching hand in the Cougs opening game and had to be removed from the batting order the rest of the weekend.
“She’s one tough player,” Davidson said. “Early on in the year she told me she wanted the ball, but we made her prove it. Once she stepped in that circle she wouldn’t give it up. She had a tremendous year.”
Clary finished the season with a record of 27-1 with a 1.27 era and a batting average of .414.
Saturday’s title game saw the Cougs jump out to an early 1-0 lead that they carried into the fifth before tacking on two more runs. After scoring three in the bottom of the sixth, Douglas pushed two across but couldn’t get any closer. Kaylah House, Kilee Pender, Courtney Huff and Katelyn Townsend each had a pair of hits for Spanish Springs, who pounded out 10 total knocks. Hunter Travers was responsible for another while Alyssa Micone had an RBI triple.
It was the fourth time in eight days that Spanish Springs and Douglas played each other, but each time it was the Cougs that came out on top. The only difference was on Saturday the Cougs weren’t playing from behind like they had in every game they played in the postseason. The Cougs trailed 2-0 to Douglas on Friday before striking for three runs in the fourth on their way to a 4-3 win.
“All of our games against Douglas were tough,” Davidson said. “This team has been resilient all year though and have always believed in themselves. When we got down in every one of those games they refocused and refused to lose.”
Some of that resiliency was shown in the opening game of the state tourney when the Cougs fought back to knock off Shadow Ridge, from Las Vegas, in eight innings, 7-6. Down 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Cougs put up three runs to draw closer before giving up two more in the top of the fifth. But as they’ve done all season long, the Cougs battled back. They scored three runs in the seventh inning to draw even at 6-6 to send it into extra innings, where Rylee Retzer would end it with a walk off solo home run to send Spanish Springs into the winner’s bracket. It was the fourth home run in four games for Retzer, who hit her fifth straight on Friday against Douglas.
Overall, Spanish Springs finished the season with a remarkable record of 33-3 after winning both the state and regional titles. It’s the fifth title Davidson has coached his team to in his 13 years at the school.
Davidson will lose five key seniors in Amidori Anderson, Aubrey Parks, Retzer, Townsend and Huff to graduation, but is proud of what they have accomplished as a group.
“Those seniors were apart of the 2016 championship and not only played a huge role on this team, but helped guide the younger players and had a tremendous impact on them,” Davidson said. “I’m very proud of the seniors and the entire team.”