It was an exciting high school baseball season in Tooele County this spring, capped by Grantsville’s victory in the Class 3A state championship game over Carbon as the Cowboys captured their second state title in the past five years.
Meanwhile, Tooele ended a lengthy postseason drought with its best season in recent memory, and while Stansbury endured a tough season in terms of wins and losses, the young Stallions showed plenty of promise along the way. The future is indeed bright, and all three programs should be contenders for years to come.
But if the Tooele Valley had but one high school, how might that baseball team look? There’s a lot of talent available, which makes it difficult to narrow it down. It would be a nice problem to have as a coach, that’s for sure. There would be so many options as to who would be in the starting lineup that it’d be basically impossible to go wrong.
So, here’s one person’s idea of how Tooele County High’s lineup might look.
Player of the Year: Brady Arbon, senior pitcher/infielder, Grantsville — If Arbon has a weakness as an athlete, you’d be hard-pressed to find it. The newly minted Class 3A Most Valuable Player hit .427 with two home runs, 12 doubles and two triples to go with 21 RBIs, and he went 8-0 on the pitcher’s mound with a microscopic 0.38 earned-run average, striking out 58 and walking 10.
Pitcher: Parker Thomas, sophomore, Grantsville — Thomas is another athlete who can do it all. He was 7-1 on the mound with a 2.04 ERA, including a win in the state championship game, and recorded 46 strikeouts against 11 walks. He also hit .337 with a team-high six home runs and 30 RBIs for the Cowboys.
Catcher: Payton Shields, junior, Tooele — Shields can play a number of positions, but for this exercise, he’s behind the plate. He hit .368 for Tooele this past season with four doubles, two triples and 14 RBIs. He can also pitch, posting a 3.61 ERA in 40 2/3 innings for the Buffaloes.
First Base: Tyler Beer, senior, Tooele — Beer was a captain for Tooele in addition to providing one of the Buffs’ most consistent bats. He hit .343 with six doubles, a triple and 14 RBIs.
Second Base: Austin Woodhouse, junior, Stansbury — Woodhouse’s .434 batting average led the Stallions, as did his 20 RBIs. He had four doubles and two triples, and also served as a co-captain.
Third Base: Connor Fackrell, junior, Stansbury — Fackrell hit .277 with two doubles, three triples and 17 RBIs in 24 games for the Stallions. He’ll be a key piece for Stansbury as he goes into his senior season.
Shortstop: Coy Johnson, senior, Grantsville — Johnson hit .363 from the leadoff spot for Grantsville, racking up 14 doubles and a triple along with 25 RBIs. He also served as Grantsville’s closer on the mound, recording five saves and a 2-1 record with a 1.56 ERA in 18 innings.
Outfield: Justin Matthews, senior, Stansbury — Matthews struggled at the plate, hitting .220 with six doubles, but his versatility earns him a spot. He can also pitch, recording a 4.62 ERA in 36 1/3 innings over eight appearances this season.
Outfield: Griffen Bate, sophomore, Tooele — Bate gave Tooele some much-needed pop in the lineup, hitting .265 with four home runs, four doubles and a triple in addition to playing a solid right field.
Outfield: Isaac Riding, junior, Grantsville — Riding hit .415 with four doubles and 19 RBIs for the Cowboys while playing multiple positions. He also seemed to get better as the season went along.
Designated Hitter: Jonathan Faircloth, senior, Tooele — Faircloth hit .317 for the Buffaloes with five doubles and eight RBIs. His ability to hit for average makes him a perfect fit at DH.