See the walkoff home run that sealed Mountain View’s district title
Needing extra innings to decide the 5A District 3 Tournament championship game would have provided sufficient drama for even the most ardent high school softball fan.
But Thursday’s title game at Mountain View High felt downright overwhelming.
So take a seat, and let us walk you through the roller coaster of emotions that led up to Mountain View’s 14-12 victory over Rocky Mountain.
‘She always comes through’
Mountain View had two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when sophomore Gracie Tentinger stepped to the plate with the game tied at 12-12.
The 5A Southern Idaho Conference’s home run leader hadn’t had a great day at the plate with just one hit in five previous at-bats.
“I know this is weird, but I can feel home runs coming,” Tentinger said. “And I had felt one coming, but it just hadn’t come yet. But at the end of the day I was like: ‘OK. We just need to score the runs. We don’t need a home run here. That’s not what’s important.’ ”
Tentinger delivered a two-run shot over the scoreboard in center field to lift the Mavericks to the program’s first district title since 2015.
Mountain View needed four runs in the bottom of the seventh just to tie the game at 11-11 and force the extra inning. Then the Mavericks allowed a Rocky Mountain run in the top of the eighth on a wild pitch, necessitating yet another comeback.
“Gracie’s a very special player. I love playing with Gracie,” Mountain View senior Madeline Layman said. “... You don’t really give Gracie advice. She’s Gracie. You just know. She’s the most reliable person I think I’ve ever played with. I just knew ... it was going to be a home run. Obviously I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to jinx it, but I just knew in that moment she was going to get it done. She always comes through.”
While Tentinger’s performance brought onlookers to their feet, Layman’s story had fans wiping away tears.
The senior infielder was called upon to pinch hit in the fifth and seventh innings, and she reached on singles both times.
“It felt really good. I wasn’t expecting to go in at all,” Layman said. “So when I got called on I was like, I have ‘for Mom’ written on my shoes. So that’s the only thing I was really focused on when I went to the plate, and I did it for her.”
Layman’s mom is battling brain cancer and was in the stands to see her daughter’s two-out RBI single in the fifth and her single to left field and run scored in the seventh in what was the final home game of her career.
Fighting back tears after the game, Layman could hardly believe it.
“My first at-bat, it was the very first pitch and I saw it,” Layman said. “Being able to come through for my team like that in a stressful situation was probably the best thing ever.”
‘We really are a family’
Mountain View junior Oakleigh Kearby went to the hospital before school on Thursday to visit her boyfriend, Riley Harrison, who was hit in the head while pitching for the Mavericks’ baseball team the night before.
Harrison suffered a fractured skull and remains in the ICU at Saint Alphonsus.
“It was just hard because he was asleep when I got there and he never really wakes up,” Kearby said. “When he does he kind of just looks at you with a blank stare and it’s just kind of hard because he doesn’t really recognize you or he doesn’t really know what’s going on. It’s just really tough. I definitely cried all the way home.”
Kearby tried to go to school but was overwhelmed with the emotion and went back home. She tried to take a nap but was in and out of sleep.
Somehow, she found the strength to suit up as the Mavericks’ starting pitcher against the Grizzlies.
Kearby earned the win, pitching 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. She was temporarily relieved by teammate Hannah Brooke in the sixth inning but returned for the final two outs of the the seventh and pitched the rest of the way.
“I think it was easier to come out here today and play because I knew I had something to play for,” Kearby said. “It made winning even better because it was for him. Everybody picked me up and everybody wrote (Harrison’s) number nine and ‘RH’ on their arms. It’s just really nice to have the support and know that everybody has my back. We always break on family, and I truly believe that we really are a family.”