Year in and year out, the best high school softball in all of Utah can be found right here in Tooele County — home to three of the Beehive State’s premier programs.
That makes the Transcript Bulletin’s annual All-County Team extremely difficult to pick every year, because the teams from Tooele, Stansbury and Grantsville could be considered all-star teams in their own right. If you plug those three teams in any classification, Class 2A through Class 6A, they would be at or near the top.
But, if Tooele County someday decided to consolidate its schools into one giant Class 6A juggernaut, there would be some tough decisions to be made come early March and time to select a softball squad to take on the rest of the state. The varsity squad would take the state championship in a rout, and the JV would probably be the second-best squad in the state.
Here is one sports writer’s opinion of how the starting lineup might look based on the 2018 regular season, as well as the Transcript Bulletin’s 2018 Softball Player of the Year.
Player of the Year — Payton Hammond, senior infielder/pitcher, Tooele: Hammond has signed to play college softball at Division I Utah Valley University, and showed why the Wolverines were so eager to add her to their roster with a dominant senior season. In the 27 games for which stats were made available online, she hit .514 with nine home runs, three triples, four doubles and 39 RBIs, all while drawing 24 walks and striking out just twice.
Pitcher — Attlyn Johnston, freshman, Tooele: Johnston was a revelation for the Buffaloes in her first season of high school softball, posting a 1.68 earned-run average. She had 151 strikeouts against 30 walks in the 27 games posted on MaxPreps.com, and opposing hitters had a batting average of .138 off of her.
Catcher — Kaeley Loader, senior, Stansbury: Loader was a rock for the Stallions behind the plate for the past three seasons. She hit .544 with three home run, 14 doubles and four triples as a senior, and drove in a team-high 41 runs as Stansbury finished second in Region 11.
First Base — Addison Smith, junior, Grantsville: Smith hit .489 with 12 home runs and 11 doubles for the Cowboys while filling a variety of roles: first baseman, right fielder, pitcher and designated player. Her 43 RBIs led the Cowboys en route to their second consecutive Class 3A state championship.
Second Base — Lindsey Allie, senior, Stansbury: Allie was a four-year starter for the Stallions, and capped her career with a strong senior season. She hit .526 from the leadoff spot, scoring 50 runs and driving in 29 more thanks to 15 doubles and four triples. She also stole 21 bases and didn’t commit an error in the field — impressive for a middle infielder.
Third Base — Madisen Baker, freshman, Tooele: Baker worked her way into a starting role for one of Class 4A’s top teams as a freshman, hitting .455 with four home runs, nine doubles and 17 RBIs. She was also one of the Buffs’ premier base-stealing threats.
Shortstop — Hannah Butler, junior, Grantsville: Butler hit .301 with six home runs, four doubles and 18 RBIs and also served as a captain for Grantsville. Her big-game experience proved invaluable for a young Cowboys squad that reached its lofty expectations.
Left Field — Amber Lujan, junior, Tooele: Lujan always seemed to come up with the big hit in the big moments for the Buffaloes, hitting .596 with five home runs, seven doubles and 28 RBIs prior to the final weekend of the state tournament.
Center Field — Maame Johnson, freshman, Stansbury: Johnson is not only a major part of Stansbury’s future, but played a key role for the Stallions right away as a freshman. She hit .443 with three home runs, seven doubles and three triples, and showed off impressive range in center field.
Right Field — Maddison Peterson, sophomore, Grantsville: Peterson had a big role for the Cowboys as their leadoff hitter, and never seemed intimidated by the pressure. She hit .489 with five home runs, 10 doubles and three triples and drove in 25 runs. And, oh, by the way, she went 6-1 in the pitcher’s circle, including a shutout in the Cowboys’ state-tournament opener against Providence Hall.
Designated Player — Kylee Leach, senior, Grantsville: Leach was Grantsville’s lone senior and didn’t see much time in the field. However, her bat was nothing short of deadly, with a .530 batting average to go with six home runs, three doubles and a triple.