After seeing the spring high school sports season wiped out, the return of baseball over the past month and a half has been a welcome sight around these parts.
It felt like something had been taken away — from the fans and the pages of the Transcript Bulletin, for sure, but especially for the kids. It was great to see them back on the field playing the game they love.
Now that the summer is fixing to give way to fall, with football, cross country and golf soon to keep our local athletes busy for the next few months, baseball season had to end eventually. But after what our local squads showed us, it kind of makes one wish it didn’t have to — or, at least, that we didn’t have to wait until March to see high school baseball return to Tooele County.
If we can take anything from this summer, it is that next spring has a chance to be truly special. Stansbury finished fourth in the American Legion 19U state tournament with pretty much the same roster the Stallions will field in their pursuit of a Region 10 title in a little over seven months. The only teams that finished ahead of them include Class 6A Farmington and Lone Peak and an all-star team from Cache County.
The state-title conversation in Class 4A usually revolves around perennial powerhouses like Dixie and Desert Hills, and for good reason. But Stansbury just put itself on the map going into 2021. The idea that the title is destined to make the trip south down Interstate 15 to southern Utah isn’t a foregone conclusion anymore.
Grantsville looks primed to make another run at the top spot in Class 3A next spring after finishing second in the Salt Lake County Varsity Prep tournament for the second year in a row. Other than Region 13 rival Summit Academy, Grantsville was the smallest school in the league, surrounded by Class 5A and Class 6A programs. Coach Aaron Perkins wants his team to be battle-tested, and that’s what the Cowboys get against the likes of Murray, Olympus, Brighton and Cyprus.
Sure, the Cowboys took their lumps at times, including in Tuesday’s title-game loss to Murray. They also showed their potential with a run-rule victory over Olympus the night before. The thing to remember is that nobody in Class 3A, not even a private school like Judge Memorial, has the kind of depth a Class 5A or Class 6A school can boast. Beating Olympus in the semifinals should prove to everyone that the likes of Carbon, Richfield and Manti better bring their A-game to compete with the Cowboys.
And, even though Tooele struggled down the stretch this summer, there’s a lot to like about the Buffaloes. Tooele looked like world-beaters the first couple weeks of the summer, but then the Buffs hit the skids. The true Tooele likely falls somewhere in between those two extremes, which still makes the Buffs a solid team going into 2021.
There will be some growing pains, to be sure. A team doesn’t lose the talent that the Buffs did to graduation and come out of it unscathed. However, don’t be surprised if Tooele is pushing Stansbury, Juan Diego and Uintah at the top of Region 10 come next May.
Next May. That sure sounds like a long time from now. But after what I saw this summer, I have a feeling it will be worth the wait.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. In a span of nine days, he personally watched 13 baseball games and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Email him at email@example.com.