COMMENTARY – There was a stretch in the middle of the season when the Snow Canyon baseball team showed its might and fury, a foreshadowing of the true potential of the team.
The Warriors showed skill, focus and attitude in beating their next four opponents (Dixie, Pine View, Canyon View and Hurricane) by a combined 60-0 score. At the time, it looked like Snow Canyon would never lose again.
But the Warriors, in baffling fashion, scored just seven runs in the next three region games, including just a pair in a 3-2 loss to Cedar and none in a 3-0 loss to Desert Hills. They went from an angry beast to a soft kitty. Then the state tournament started and the beast was back.
The Warriors 10-runned Morgan and beat Spanish Fork on the Dons own field, 5-4. Looking like world beaters again, they shut out Canyon View 5-0. Then came their third shot at Desert Hills.
With a quick start, it looked like the Warriors had finally figured out Thunder starting pitcher Kaleb Caplin. SC put four runs on the senior star in the fourth inning and looked like they were punching their ticket to the state championship game.
But Caplin settled down and the Thunder rallied, scoring three in the fifth, one in the seventh and the winning tally in the eighth. It was DH, not SC, who was headed to the championship.
But later that night, something awakened inside the Warriors once again. Whether it was inspiration gleaned from fallen teammate K.J. Harrison or the burning ignominy of potential unfulfilled, each Warrior vowed to be at his best on championship Saturday.
As always in a double-elimination format, the team on the loser’s side would have to win three games on the tourney’s last day to win the title. In Snow Canyon’s way was Spanish Fork, a team with fire in its eyes after taking that home loss against the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, and SC’s rival and nemesis Desert Hills, who the Warriors would have to beat twice.
Of course, we know the end to this story. Snow Canyon beat Spanish Fork 5-2, then routed the Thunder twice, 16-6 and 7-1. The Warriors played nearly flawless baseball. The bats were unbelievably active with 28 runs in three games and the defense was solid.
But there were two key factors that ultimately swung the pendulum Snow Canyon’s way. First of all, Snow Canyon’s pitching on Saturday was phenomenal. Chandler Day pitched a complete game against Spanish Fork, while Clint Gates tossed a complete-game gem in the second game vs. Desert Hills. The bats took care of business in the the first win over DH, but having two guys pitch complete games out of the one-loss bracket was monstrous.
The other factor was Caplin. All year, he showed his value for Desert Hills, both batting and pitching. And it’s safe to say he had Snow Canyon’s number. The senior Desert Hills starter won all three times he faced Snow Canyon.
But Saturday, after a complete-game victory on Friday night, Thunder coach Jerry Beck knew he just couldn’t put his young hurler at risk. With the Warriors red-hot at the plate and Caplin exhausted and unavailable, Snow Canyon won the game easily, 7-1. For the record, Caplin did come in late in the game, but the proverbial horse was already out of the barn at that point.
So the Warriors hoisted the trophy again. It was an amazing day in which they finally fulfilled their championship potential. They became, once and for all, the angry beast.
It was not a great weekend for the local softball teams. Snow Canyon’s incredible season (20-0 in the regular season) ended abruptly Friday. As I talked with the game management people at Little Valley that evening, there was a feeling of disbelief at what happened to the Lady Warriors.
Certainly, it is one of those times when the Snow Canyon fans need to forget those last two games and focus on what was a great year.
As for Pine View, the Lady Panthers ended up being the last Region 9 team alive after they beat Canyon View in an elimination game Friday afternoon. Pine View lost a game in the first round of “pod” games the previous week, but put together four straight wins (over Carbon, Payson, Uintah and CV) before finally bowing out to Spanish Fork Friday night.
Coach Randy Green said he hopes this is the start of a strong winning tradition for PV softball. Making it to 3A’s final four certainly qualifies for that.
Katie Perkins, Megan Welch and Kyla Smith all fired rounds in the 70s as the Desert Hills girls golf team won yet another state championship. Now winners of four straight titles, the Thunder and coach Laurie Dyer just keep dominating. They won by 32 points (in the modified Stableford scoring method) over second-place Pine View.
The Lady Panthers got an outstanding day from Bailey Callahan, who shot a 75 to lead her team. Taylor Bandley shot 80. Spanish Fork took third and Snow Canyon came in fourth in the tourney played at Ogden’s Schneiter’s Riverside course.
Sophomore Katie Perkins was the gold medalist and shot a 72 at the state tourney. Welch took the silver with a 74 and Callahan’s 75 was good enough for bronze.
In track and field, victories by Brad Wulfenstein in the 110-hurdles and the 300-hurdles and Blake Kvarfordt in the shot put and discus earned the Desert Hills team 40 of their 3A best 94 points Friday and Saturday at the state track meet.
Neither was a surprise as both athletes have dominated their events all season long. The only other St. George-area winner in the state meet was Abby Taylor, who took the girls long jump. The Desert Hills girls placed fifth.
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