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Bear River's Olivia Taylor (left) avoids the tag of Tooele's Kate Hogan and is called safe at second base during the 4A softball state championship series in Spanish Fork on Saturday, May 22, 2021.

Once the ball hit off the bat of Tooele's Attlyn Johnston, Bear River softball senior center fielder Olivia Taylor sprinted toward the outfield fence.

"I think the biggest thing was I was reacting off the bat, I could tell it was a shot coming right at me. Once I was getting close — I knew I was semi-close to the fence — I ended up jumping and being able to catch it," Taylor said in a phone interview with the Standard-Examiner.

The catch was a backwards, jumping effort over the fence to rob a two-out homer and preserve a 4-1 lead in a state championship game on May 22 that the Bears needed to win.

Not only did BR win both games that day to win the 4A softball title, but Taylor's catch went viral on the internet.

Video of the catch, taken by KSL TV sports anchor Sam Farnsworth, was No. 2 on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 plays that night and made the rounds on various accounts on Instagram and Twitter that have millions of followers, including ESPN's.

Taylor said she got hundreds of texts, direct messages and Instagram follow requests, meaning her phone needed to be plugged in or it would run out of battery power.

National media outlets including CBS Sports, USA Today and Fox News ran articles about the catch that Taylor says she didn't expect to go viral.

"Going from winning state, coming home and thinking that was all over and having that happen," Taylor said. "It was crazy not just because we won, but it also went viral and it was mind-blowing."

The catch wasn't an all-out internet sensation until the following Monday when she was at school and started getting notes from the school office saying that the likes of ESPN and MLB TV wanted to talk to her.

The MLB TV interview was live on the network's morning show. Taylor sat in a hallway at her house in front of a blank wall, put a computer on a stepping stool and put a lamp behind the camera to make the lighting better. 

The timing of going viral, near the end of the school year, made it a bit more overwhelming, but Taylor said she was able to keep her 4.0 GPA and that made her happy.

"I was just more so humbled than anything, I had a lot of people supporting me through the whole thing," Taylor said, referencing the dozens of teammates, family, friends and people who reached out to her in awe of the catch. "The love that I got from them meant the most to me."

The catch also sparked some question about whether it was legal or not, but she left the ground from an in-play part of the field and caught the ball before she landed out of play, as the video clearly shows.

After the Bears won the state title, Bears head coach Calvin Bingham and sophomore pitcher Kate Dahle both praised Taylor for the catch and added that she had made some big catches this season to rob other teams of hits and such, but nothing like that. 

Taylor is signed to play college softball at the College of Southern Idaho and says she wants to get an associate's degree in biology.

Contact reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net and follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_.

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