Most of the teams in this year’s Class 3A state softball tournament will make the jump to Class 4A next season, while others will remain in the smaller classification.
Grantsville, the smallest school in the current Class 3A, is one of the squads not moving up, but the Cowboys hope to give the larger schools something to remember them by this weekend as they pursue a state title.
“I’m excited to see them succeed and play as a team,” Grantsville coach Heidi Taylor said. “Success isn’t always defined by wins and losses, and at the end of the day, whatever the outcome may be, I will be proud of this team.”
The Cowboys (21-5) came into this weekend’s play at the Spanish Fork Softball Complex as one of eight unbeaten teams left in the double-elimination bracket. Grantsville played Desert Hills, the second-place team from Region 9, on Thursday afternoon in a game that was not complete at press time. The winner advanced to play either Bear River or North Sanpete at 10 a.m. Friday afternoon, while the loser faced an elimination game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday against Carbon.
One thing that could benefit the Cowboys is their pitching depth. In addition to ace Alese Casper, Grantsville can also bring in the likes of Addison Smith, Ashlee Anderson and Bailey Frischknecht, among others.
“We don’t lack for pitchers, that’s for sure,” Taylor said. “We have to take an extra half-hour of practice just for our pitchers, and they’re across the entire field trying to get their throws in. It’s a great opportunity for them and they’ve all just kind of pushed each other and learned from each other.”
“I think that we haven’t plateaued – I think that we just keep getting better,” Taylor added. “We keep finding things to get better at, which is good.
Grantsville, the Region 10 champion, knows it has a tough road ahead of it if it wants to win a state title. The Cowboys are on the same side of the bracket as Bear River, the defending state champion that has beaten them twice this season. That’s not to say the other side of the bracket is easy, though, as defending state runner-up Juab, Region 9 champion Cedar, perennial power Tooele and first-year school Ridgeline all won their first-round games last weekend as well.
“These guys have learned a lot about mental toughness, especially the past couple years at the state tournament,” Taylor said. “We’ve had some inner battles and they’ve learned from that. They’ve learned that if they’re struggling in the dugout and they’re struggling with the team, that’s going to carry onto the field. They’ve been certain to keep that from happening.”
Tooele faced Cedar on Thursday afternoon in a game that was not complete at press time. The winner advanced to play the Juab-Ridgeline winner on Friday at 10 a.m. The loser played an elimination game against Canyon View at 3:15 p.m. Thursday.
Stansbury, which lost its first-round game to Ridgeline 2-1 last weekend before beating Hurricane 10-5 to keep its season going, faced the loser of the Juab-Ridgeline game in an elimination game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday. The winner of that game was set to play another elimination game at 10 a.m. Friday.