Spanish Fork (29-3) earned a berth into the 4A title game at 4 p.m. Thursday and will play the winner of the 1 p.m. game between Maple Mountain and Uintah. At any rate, the crown will be up for grabs amongst Region 8 teams no matter who wins the earlier game.
"It's tough to beat a team three times and it'll be even tougher to beat them four times," said Dons coach Don Andrews, who will have that prospect on Thursday. "But it's an all Region 8 and that's all right with us."
Hazel had virtually no difficulty in going through the Maple Mountain (18-9) lineup the first time around. Setting down nine batters in order over the first three innings, Hazel struck out seven.
In the meantime, the Dons found hitting success right away.
Leadoff hitter Cheyanne Dowley started the first with a bunt hit, followed by a single by Brylee Rudd. Spanish Fork's Gabby Beckstrom drove in the first run with an opposite-field single to right and that was followed by a two-RBI single to center by Mallory Barber.
The Dons doubled their production in the third inning, extending the lead to 6-0. Brooke Carter and Kenzie Branch each had run-scoring singles in that frame.
"Any time you can get a cushion right off the bat, it makes life better especially around me," Andrews said. "I'm not really intense and I don't demand perfection, but they'd better be working toward it."
Eventually, the Eagles did get success against Hazel as Mickey Mills homered to lead off the fourth and Sydnie Wilson added another home run to center in the seventh.
After the game, Maple Mountain coach Cassie Reese said the smattering of hitting success after the poor start did give her some confidence should the teams meet again.
"I like to see our region do well, because it proves how tough it is," Reese said. "But you get sick of playing teams over and over. At the same time, you want them to do good but not against us."
R Spanish Fork pitcher Cambrie Hazel struck out seven of Maple Mountain's first nine hitters.
• Dons' Kenzie Branch and Haylie Smith both doubled in the fifth before teammate Brylee Rudd homered in the sixth. The previous seven hits for Spanish Fork, in building a 6-0 lead, were all singles.