This is legendary.
Those words emanated from the Grantsville softball team’s dugout as the Cowboys were putting the finishing touches on their state championship-clinching victory over Manti on Saturday afternoon, capping an improbable run that saw them win five elimination games in a span of less than 24 hours.
While Grantsville’s third consecutive Class 3A title secured the Cowboys’ spot as one of Utah’s true high school softball dynasties, it’s the way they completed the “three-peat” that has the 2019 edition on a level all its own.
It could have all come crashing down Friday afternoon when Grantsville saw a 4-1 lead go by the wayside in the quarterfinals on its way to a 7-6 loss to Manti — the Cowboys’ first to a current Class 3A squad since the 2016 state tournament, when the current seniors were freshmen. GHS could have fallen apart when Union loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning in a 1-1, win-or-go-home situation, but a couple clutch defensive plays by Maizie Clark at second base got them out of the jam unscathed.
On Saturday morning, Grand took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the top of the third inning, but Grantsville responded with back-to-back solo home runs by Jaelynn DeLaney and Hannah Butler in the bottom of the frame and never trailed again for the remainder of the tournament. For a team that dominated most of the time in posting a 75-16 record over the past three years, the Cowboys never wavered, even in the face of rare adversity. In fact, they thrived on it. They gave up seven runs in the loss to Manti. They allowed just seven more runs over the next five games while scoring 38 themselves. By the end of the first inning of the second championship game, it felt like a foregone conclusion: time to get the fire trucks ready. The big trophy, once again, was headed to Grantsville, and there was nothing anybody could do to stop the Cowboys.
The numbers they put up along the way were mind-boggling. Butler hit seven home runs in seven postseason games after hitting four in 24 regular-season contests. She combined with DeLaney, Maddison Peterson, Laura Sandberg and August Cowan to hit 17 round-trippers over two days in Spanish Fork — those players combined for 22 home runs during the regular season.
It wasn’t just the offense, either. Peterson, Cowan and Bailey Frischknecht posted a 1.87 earned-run average in Spanish Fork, striking out 68 and walking 12 in 45 innings in the pitcher’s circle. Most teams are lucky to have one dominant pitcher. The Cowboys have three — and they’ll all be back in 2020, with Peterson and Frischknecht entering their senior years and Cowan set to be a junior in the fall. A frightening thought, indeed, for the rest of Class 3A.
This may have been the most difficult of Grantsville’s three championship runs. It was certainly the most memorable.
It was the stuff of legends.
Congratulations, Cowboys. And thank you for the thrill ride.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He has been lucky enough to cover 12 state championship-winning softball teams so far in his career (and is hoping for lucky No. 13 this weekend), but Grantsville’s latest was something special. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.