Tooele County has long been known as Utah’s softball hotbed, with three programs in Tooele, Grantsville and Stansbury capable of competing for state championships year in and year out.
That means the boys on the baseball diamond get somewhat overshadowed this time of year — outside of Grantsville, where the Cowboys won a state title of their own in 2018 and figure to be one of the favorites to do so again this spring. But this year, the baseball teams at Tooele and Stansbury might grab some of that spotlight for themselves.
Now, let’s not get too carried away just yet. As of this writing, Stansbury and Tooele are a combined 5-0 in Region 11 play, but those wins have come at the expense of a pair of struggling programs in Ogden and Ben Lomond. But even in mismatches like those, you can look at the statistics and realize that this isn’t just a case of the Stallions and Buffaloes fattening up on weaker competition.
Tooele’s Brett Porthan threw a no-hitter on Tuesday in a 12-0 win over Ben Lomond. While the Scots aren’t likely to compete for a region championship or even a state tournament berth this season, throwing a no-hitter against anybody is an accomplishment. If not for an error, Porthan would have thrown a perfect game.
The Buffs’ overall record isn’t the prettiest after a rough weekend in St. George last week, but even in their losses, they’ve been competitive. If they keep getting pitching like they’ve been getting, that could make them a force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile, Stansbury is off to a 7-3 start and found its offense in a 20-3 shellacking of Ogden on Wednesday. Jaydan Kelsch has been a force on the mound and at the plate as a member of the Stallions’ deep senior class, while underclassman Gage Miller is turning into a real threat as well.
The problem for the Buffs and Stallions is the logjam that exists at the top of Region 11. Park City and Juan Diego look particularly strong this season. That means Tooele, Stansbury and Bonneville could be battling each other for two postseason berths. There is going to be a fairly talented team left sitting at home when the state tournament starts as a result, but none of them will go down without a fight.
Over at Grantsville, the Cowboys are still going through some growing pains with a young team. You don’t replace the senior class they had last year overnight, and there are going to be some bumps in the road along the way. Those bumps become particularly pronounced when you face the gauntlet of a non-region schedule that Grantsville has. But, much like their neighbors on the softball field, the GHS baseball team benefits from playing such a tough schedule once the state tournament rolls around.
Something tells me the Cowboys, young pitching staff and all, are going to be just fine come May.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He is thankful that the rain held off just long enough for him to enjoy a little baseball this week. Email him at email@example.com.