A fantastic performance at the 3A All-Star baseball game changed summer plans for Wyatt Branch.
The former Stansbury High School player went three-for-four hitting in the game with two doubles and a walk at Lindquist Field in Ogden on June 7. He won the Coach’s Choice Award after the game. Suddenly he became an even hotter commodity than before with college recruiters.
Dixie State University coach Chris Pfatenhauer chatted with Branch and his parents for several minutes after the game. By the end of the conversation, Branch had a scholarship offer to play for the Red Storm.
After leading the Stallions in 11 statistical categories his senior year, he already had been recruited by seven other colleges, including Salt Lake Community College.
Branch signed a national letter of intent with Dixie State on June 18.
“I always wanted to play at Dixie State, and was ready to sign when they offered,” Branch said. “I like their overall program of discipline, hard work, focus on academics and community involvement. It’s a perfect fit for the way I’m accustomed to playing.”
Dixie State had Branch on its radar throughout his senior season in high school.
“He played against a lot of Region 9 teams this year in 3A and the high school coaches down here were impressed with his hitting,” said Dixie coach Pfatenhauer. “I got a chance to meet him on all-star weekend in Ogden. We liked him and offered him. Since then I’ve watched him play four or five more games.”
Branch’s success at hitting was his ticket to playing baseball beyond high school.
“He’s a physically big kid who bats left-handed and runs well. There are a few things defensively we need to coach him with to play at our level. We’re sure we can get him where he needs to be by the time games start,” Pfatenhauer said.
After that breakout 3A All-Star game in Ogden, Branch also was selected to play for the Salt Lake Gulls, a traveling all-star team comprised of seniors and juniors from the state of Utah.
The Gulls have played in several tournaments in-state along with stops in Boise, Las Vegas, Seattle, Texas and Colorado. Sometimes the Gulls tangle with a pair of other Utah all-star teams, the Bucks and Marshals. The team has placed second in three of the tournaments they participated in this summer, with the season ending this month.
Branch bats third in the line-up, and has played a variety of positions, including shortstop, second base, right field and left field.
“It is great experience for me because the competition is a step up from legion baseball,” Branch said.
Branch’s senior season at Stansbury HIgh School was stellar.
He scored 25 runs, and led the team in hits with 31. He also led the team in doubles and triples with eight in each category.
Branch collected 19 RBIs, led the team in walks with 15, stolen bases 11, on-base percentage .540, and slugging .729.
The recent SHS graduate also received praise from the principal.
“Wyatt earned his classmates and teammates respect through his competitive spirit, hard work, display of good sportsmanship, loyalty to fellow teammates and athleticism. Wyatt is an outstanding citizen and respectful young man. He always displayed very appropriate behavior toward fellow students and staff at our school,” said principal Kendall Topham.
Wyatt said his father Steve has helped him the most in baseball.
“I’ve been playing since 8 years old, and my dad has helped me all along the way,” Wyatt said. Steve Branch created the Stansbury Stealth accelerated baseball team, his son said.
Branch also has been part of a successful high school program that won back-to-back Region 11 championships. Branch played on the Stansbury American Legion team last year, which won the state championship.
He will be in St. George to start school this fall, and games begin in February. The Red Storm competes in the Pacific West Conference. Some of the teams are Azusa Pacific, California Baptist, Fresno Pacific, Hawaii- Hilo, Hawaii Pacific and Point Loma Nazarene.