Monday Rundown: Seeking superlatives for perfect Thunder

COMMENTARY – All my years as a radio broadcaster, I loved being on the air, talking about the games, trying to provide insight. But I hated the wire factor.

No matter who was playing or where the game was being played, we were tied to our wires, which led to our mixing boards and our phone lines and our power sources. And that meant no mingling with the fans, no talking with the players’ dads and very little insight from other people, at least until after the games were over.

And though I miss broadcasting terribly, one perk of being a reporter vs. a broadcaster is the ability to mingle. Now, with my size and conspicuousness, I can’t really eavesdrop. Just about everyone knows who I am, it seems. But I can move around, talk to dads and moms and family members of players and fans and classmates. It’s actually a lot of fun.

Especially this baseball season as I have been witness to all the head-shaking, jaw-dropping, flat out wonderment of opposing fans as they’ve watched the Desert Hills Thunder win game after game.

Here is a sampling of some of the words I’ve heard from opposing fans as they’ve watched Desert Hills systematically beat their teams: Solid, efficient, amazing, wow, unbelievable, precise, don’t beat themselves, stunning defense.

Friday, the Thunder shut out Snow Canyon 3-0 behind the stellar pitching of Kaleb Caplin and the usual stellar defense. In the third inning, nursing a 1-0 lead, Desert Hills did something it hadn’t done in most of its region games. The Thunder committed an error. In fact, they committed two on one player after a dropped fly ball and then an overthrow on a pickoff attempt put Snow Canyon’s Chandler Day on third base with one out.

Caplin then plunked Clint Gates, to put runners on first and third with one out and hard-hitting Brogan Secrist coming to bat. Secrist hit the first pitch from Caplin very hard, but superstar defensive shortstop Braiden Irvin was on it from the ping of the bat, scooping up the ball, flicking it to second baseman Evan Moss, who then gunned it to first to erase the earlier mistakes.

You don’t always get a chance to redeem yourself after a mistake or two, but Desert Hills wasn’t about to let the second chance slip away. The Thunder played error-free the rest of the game and took the region-clinching win.

And as I interviewed “Flo,” the nickname DH fans have dubbed Caplin with (he grew up in Florida), a couple of those words came up again. Caplin called his teammates solid and amazing. And one other word came up as well: Trust.

“I trust my defense behind me,” he said. Now that’s a word wort repeating.

All of the sudden, the Warriors are in a must-win situation with their two losses last week. Snow Canyon has dropped to 7-4 and is tied in the loss column with both Dixie and Canyon View. The Warriors host Dixie Tuesday night and are heavily favored after having beaten Dixie 10-0 earlier this season.

But keep in mind that Snow Canyon has lost two straight while the Flyers have won two in a row and four of five since the teams last met.

Meanwhile Canyon View plays at undefeated Desert Hills Tuesday, then takes on Dixie Friday afternoon in north Cedar City.

Oh, and a little ray of hope for Snow Canyon fans: Both of the last two state championships for Snow Canyon came after the Warriors did NOT win region. In 2007, the Warriors were second to Dixie, but beat the Flyers in the championship game and last year SC squeaked into the playoffs as a fourth-place team after being forced to forfeit several games.

region-9--boys-soccerIn boys soccer, the race is over, but what a finish. Desert Hills grabbed the Region 9 championship on the last day of the season with a gutsy 1-0 road win at Snow Canyon.

Dixie left the door open for the Thunder with its loss Thursday night to Pine View. Desert Hills knew before its game ever started that they could be crowned champs if they could gut out the win at SC.

So the Flyers will settle for the No. 2-seed while Pine View gets the No. 3-seed. Cedar clinched its berth in the playoffs with a 4-1 win over Hurricane.

So the first round of the playoffs for our southern Utah teams is as follows (all games are Thursday at 7 p.m.):

Morgan (4-10-1) at Desert Hills (12-2-2)
Delta (7-6-0) at Dixie (11-5-0)
Pine View (9-5-1) at Payson (8-5-1)
Cedar (9-6-1) at Spanish Fork (8-7-1)

The full bracket is here: 3A Soccer Bracket

region-9-softballI don’t want to say it’s becoming commonplace, but it’s certainly no surprise that Snow Canyon keeps winning. The undefeated Warriors went to 18-0 overall and 11-0 in Region 9 play with a pair of wins this week over Cedar (11-7) and Desert Hills (14-2).

That record is impressive enough, but look at some these other stats: SC is averaging 7.6 runs per game and allowing just under two runs a game at 1.9. That’s a run differential of 5.7 runs a game. That’s like winning by 40 points a game in football. Brytni Gurney has pitched all 18 wins, while the Lady Warriors have hit 14 home runs, 33 doubles and one triple. That’s 48 extra-base hits in 18 games, nearly three per game.

SC has one region game left, a battle against Dixie on Tuesday afternoon at SCHS. The Lady Flyers, meanwhile, are desperate for wins. They are tied with Cedar at 4-6 in region in the battle for the final playoff spot. The bad news for Dixie is the final two games are on the road against the first (SC) and second place (Canyon View) teams. Cedar plays Hurricane and Pine View at home.

The Lady Falcons grabbed second place with a close home win vs. Pine View, 4-3. So CV has a game lead and the tiebreak over the Lady Panthers for second place.

region-9-track-and-fieldRight now, the best hurdler in the state of Utah is Desert Hills senior Brad Wulfenstein. He has the best time recorded all year (all classifications) in the 110-hurdles at 14.43 and the third best time in the 300-hurdles at 38.92. Even with that great 11 time, Wulfenstein is still .62 off the state record, set by West Jordan’s Jake Garlick in 2000.

Here’s a list of the first day of state for each spring sport:

Baseball – May 11
Softball – May 11
Girls golf – May 16
Boys tennis – May 16
Track and field – May 17


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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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