From what I’ve seen so far this year, there is little doubt that Tooele County will be home to at least one state softball champion this year — if not two.
The only question appears to be how wide the gap is between Grantsville, Tooele and Stansbury and everyone else in the state.
Yes, it’s early in the season, and region play just started this week. But barring an unlikely complete collapse, nobody should touch Grantsville in Class 3A. The Cowboys’ depth has taken a bit of a hit, but when your top-end talent is as good as theirs is, it really doesn’t matter all that much. And the bulk of their roster is made up of underclassmen, which should have the rest of Class 3A terrified for years to come.
It will be a little tougher for Tooele and Stansbury in Class 4A, as evidenced by Stansbury’s rare home loss to Ridgeline last week. In talking to others who know even more about Utah’s high school softball landscape than I do, Class 4A is loaded this year. Bear River, Spanish Fork and Uintah are all perennial powers and Lehi, Cedar and Salem Hills aren’t slouches either. However, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Tooele and Stansbury both make it to the final day of the state tournament, or even face each other with the title on the line. They’re both that good. Tooele entered the week still unbeaten, and even with the Ridgeline setback, a Stansbury team loaded with talented underclassmen and college-bound seniors is still a potential playoff opponent’s worst nightmare.
Again, I realize state championships aren’t won or lost in March. There is a lot of softball left to be played between now and then. Somebody could suffer a season-ending injury that could completely derail those state-title dreams. An unheralded underclassmen on any team in the state could suddenly come into her own and become the state’s next great superstar. There are still region titles and playoff seeds yet to be decided.
But if you’re on one of Tooele County’s three premier high school squads, you’re bound to feel pretty good about yourself at this point. And there’s a good chance you’re going to feel pretty good about yourself atop a fire truck sometime in mid-May, holding a state championship trophy aloft.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He’s been lucky enough to cover a lot of high-caliber high school softball in his career, so he’s really looking forward to seeing how this season unfolds. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.