The Grantsville softball team started the season red-hot — no pun intended there — but seemed to hit a bit of a swoon in recent games, suffering a wind-blown loss to rival Tooele and getting run-ruled by defending state champion Bear River.
Most teams, particularly those with the high hopes the Cowboys bring into every season, would have had their confidence at least damaged, if not completely shattered, by such humbling defeats.
But it appears the Cowboys have taken the opposite approach. They’re not feeling any additional pressure. In fact, they’re as relaxed a team as you’ll ever see.
Perhaps that’s why they’re enjoying the success they are through the first three quarters of the region season. Softball is a game, and therefore, it’s supposed to be fun, right?
There’s dancing between innings and laughing between pitches. There are jokes being cracked in the dugout.
And most importantly, there are runs going up on the scoreboard and wins going on the Cowboys’ record.
They still have to face their two toughest tests of the region season, with Friday’s road game guaranteeing the winner of at least a share of the region title. Union, which is vastly improved this season, has already beaten Stansbury and Tooele this year, and lost 3-1 to Grantsville in the teams’ first meeting.
The Cougars aren’t the easy out — again, no pun intended — that they used to be. A win in Roosevelt would truly be an accomplishment for the Cowboys, and it would give them a one-game lead on the Cougars, as well as the head-to-head tiebreaker.
That could be important, considering that the Region 10 finale sends the Cowboys to Stansbury. The Stallions, who have a pair of tough games of their own against Tooele and Union looming, could be playing for a share of the region title themselves if they win their next two contests.
And I’m sure the Stallions have a bit of a chip on their shoulder after Grantsville run-ruled them in the teams’ first meeting of the season. That doesn’t happen very often to Stansbury, and it’s not likely that the Stallions will let it happen again — particularly not with so much on the line.
It’s getting to be crunch time in the high school softball season. Home-field advantage is up for grabs.
There are still games to be played. But it looks like Grantsville has the inside track. Can the small-school Cowboys leave an impression on their larger foes from Stansbury, Tooele, Union and Park City in their final season in the same region?
We’ll know by next Friday.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He always looks forward to state tournament time. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.