GARLAND — By summer’s end, Morgan Summers will be sporting a gold ring on each finger of her right hand.
Ah, the life of a four-time state 3-A softball champion.
“I don’t like to lose,” said the 17-year-old Summers. “I was lucky to be part of great teams for four years. All of the state titles at Bear River were a highlight. Winning never gets old, and I’m a sore loser.”
During her four-year career at Bear River High School — the last three seasons as a starting center fielder — the Bears compiled a 96-20 overall record and a 38-4 league mark with three straight outright or shared Region 11 titles.
“Ending on a high note made it a lot easier,” Summers said. “I’m excited for the next four years at Utah Valley University.”
Summers, the 2012 Standard-Examiner All-Area Softball Team’s MVP will be reunited with her older sister, Josi, a right-handed pitcher with the Wolverines.
“I’m excited to play with Josi again,” Summers said. “She is a redshirt sophomore, so we’ll have three years together.”
Josi and Morgan were Bear River teammates during Morgan’s freshman and sophomore years.
“Ever since I picked up a softball, I wanted to go to a (NCAA) Division I school,” Summers said. “BYU and Salt Lake Community College were in the running, and those were the three schools I narrowed it down to.”
She also considered Chico State in California.
“Everything was up in the air until last fall when I decided I wanted to stay instate,” Summers said. “It felt right to go to Utah Valley. Making my official visit there helped me make up my mind to go to Utah Valley University.”
Summers, a three-year starter and three-time All-Area selection, batted .545 with 61 hits, a double, three home runs — two inside-the-park — 13 RBIs, 51 runs, 48 stolen bases, eight walks — she was hit once by a pitch — 10 strikeouts, a .579 on-base percentage and a .634 slugging percentage.
“I think she will do great at Utah Valley. Morgan is one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” said Bear River coach Calvin Bingham. “I appreciate the fact she was willing to play outfield for the benefit of the team. By playing outfield, Morgan made a really good team an outstanding team.”
Summers’ 61 hits and 48 stolen bases are both new single-season state records. She also set a single-game record with six stolen bases and holds the career record with 101 stolen bases.
Spanning her sophomore and junior years, Summers went 27 consecutive games with at least a hit.
“I’m not sure you could say where Morgan was more valuable, offensively or defensively,” Bingham said. “She made some critical catches for us this season. There were times I thought some Texas leaguers would fall in and there Morgan was waiting for them.
“She is so fast and runs like a gazelle,” he said. “Morgan has everything it takes to be a good softball player. She is so talented with a strong work ethic. This was Morgan’s best season.”
Summers, a left-handed slap hitter, said she never imagined being a four-time state softball champion.
“This year was the most exciting for me, being a senior,” she said. “I was just a speed-up runner as a freshman, so winning state my senior year means the most. Everything worked out perfectly that day; everything just fell into place.”
What the Bears didn’t count on was having to play twice on May 21 at SLCC’s Bruin Field after Region 12 champion Spanish Fork spanked Bear River 16-0 in three innings.
“It was different playing on a Monday,” Summers said. “After the first game, the nine starters went in the outfield and talked. No coaches, just us players. Jordan (Theurer) said a prayer, and we were able to refocus and regroup.
“We had to let that first game go because there was nothing we could do about it,” she said. “I was way embarrassed; I wanted to put a bag over my head. We had to convince ourselves that we were ready to go, and by then, it was too late. We kind of left our game on the bus. It was the worst loss of my career.”
With an 8-0 second-game victory over the stunned Dons, Bear River swept its fifth consecutive 3-A title — the first team to accomplish that feat since softball became a sanctioned sport in 1990.
“I was upset and disappointed that we didn’t know how to respond during the first game, but it was a team win in the second game and everybody stepped up,” Summers said. “I’m glad the first game only went three innings and we didn’t have to waste our energy on something we couldn’t come back from.
“We executed better in the second game, and by being team hitters, the energy level was black and white from the first game,” she said. “It made us mad, and we wanted to come back and show them we didn’t like losing like that. I felt a lot more comfortable having seven runs behind us and the way Jordan was pitching.”
Summers said being a four-time state champion is more important than all the records, but she still set goals regarding stolen bases.
“I wanted to hold all of the stolen base records by my senior year because I am competitive running-wise,” she said. “I wasn’t always this quick, not like I am now. You can’t really teach speed, so I think I’ve been blessed. I do try and stay in good shape.
“I had never played the outfield until my sophomore year,” Summers said. “I had always played the middle infield growing up. I think my speed helps a lot, and that’s why coach Bingham wanted me in the outfield.
“It’s still hard to judge a fly ball, and I was really nervous my sophomore year having never played there before,” she said. “I wanted to play shortstop this year at the start of the season (2011 starter Kelli Smart had graduated and moved on to Utah Valley), but I knew my team needed me more in the outfield during my career.”
Summers also played volleyball and basketball for Da Bears.
“I love to play sports and I was able to practice softball even playing two other sports,” she said. “It was busy, but it was worth it. Softball is my favorite sport, by far.”