"Sometimes the matador gets the bull and other times the bull gets the matador," Spanish Fork coach Don Andrews said. "They got us that first game. Everything Cambrie threw, they hit over the fence. So what can you do? ... I guess they decided they had enough of us beating them."
The Dons had defeated Uintah twice by a combined score of 20-1 in Region 8 play. There was no reason to think the Utes would pose a threat, especially since the Vernal team needed to beat Springville 3-2 earlier Thursday.
But they hadn't figured on the play of Uintah's Summer Stensgard.
All Stensgard did in the first game was hit three home runs and pitch well enough to keep the potent Dons bats at bay.
"Summer is phenomenal," Uintah coach Madelyn Schulz said. "It was absolutely amazing to do what she did. She pitched two games in a row two days in a row."
Andrews sensed that Hazel, who was perhaps the state's top pitcher this season and one of only two seniors on the Spanish Fork team, was struggling in that first game. So he told her to rest and get ready if needed in the second.
With Beckstrom hitting a three-run homer, the Dons jumped on the exhausted Stensgard for five runs in the top of the first. But Uintah wouldn't quit and fought back to tie it at 5.
"Our girls just had a chip on their shoulder and were ready to play," Schulz said. "They wanted to win that game. ... We played six games this week. We ran out of gas. They had more gas in their tank."
Spanish Fork took the lead for good in the top of the fifth when, not surprisingly, Beckstrom doubled in what would prove to be the winning run.
The Dons broke it open in the fifth with Beckstrom's three-run homer keying a six-run rally then kicked in the run rule with a five-run sixth. Beckstrom's two-run double capped an incredible title game for her.
"I knew the last game we didn't do very well, so I knew I needed to do something for the team," she said. "That's probably one of the best games I ever had. I feel like everyone was low after the last game, so I needed to do my job."
And Beckstrom admitted that Uintah surprised the Dons.
"I had no idea they were that good until they came in ready for state," she said.
As Andrews watched his team celebrate its third straight title, he only could smile.
"Championships never get old," he said. "You play to have fun, and the hardware and championships are pretty fun."
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Spanish Fork 17, Uintah 5
R Gabby Beckstrom hits two home runs and knocks in nine runs to lead Spanish Fork to its third straight title.
• Summer Stensgard hits three home runs and pitches a complete game to lead Uintah to a 10-8 victory in the first game.
• After struggling, Spanish Fork star pitcher Cambrie Hazel settles down to get the win and the title in her final game as a Don.