There’s nothing easy about the beginning of the spring sports season.
The practice time is limited, and the non-region season seemingly gets shorter and shorter. The weather is often miserable. There are freshmen getting thrown directly into the fire of varsity play barely a week after tryouts.
It’s a situation that only the strong survive.
These early games are definitely no works of art. They’re at-times sloppy, mistake-filled affairs that bear little resemblance to the better games to come when the temperatures warm up. Routine plays are anything but routine, making coaches want to rip their hair out. But let’s not get that confused with a lack of entertainment value.
The spring sports season officially started Monday, and I’ve been to a game every day this week. Each of the three games has come down to the wire — Grantsville’s 1-0 loss to Payson on the soccer pitch on Monday, Stansbury’s 6-5, extra-innings loss to Cyprus in baseball on Tuesday and the Stallions’ 13-12, come-from-behind win over Hunter in a 10-inning softball marathon on Wednesday. Were they perfect? No. Even the coaches will tell you that. Were they entertaining? Absolutely.
It would be unfair to expect these teams to be at their best in early March. Thanks to the recent rain and snow, the baseball and softball teams have spent virtually all of their practices inside. Taking ground balls on a gym floor is one thing. Taking them off an actual infield is quite another. And when several of your players are shifting gears from shooting a basketball to swinging a bat with just a week in between, it makes for a tough transition.
Soccer tryouts wrapped up last Friday. The first games were Monday. That means coaches had the weekend to figure out their starting 11, not knowing what the chemistry would be like. With few practices together, it’s understandable why the timing might not be there.
However, it is easy to see the talent that is out there. I haven’t seen everyone yet — not even close. It might be a month before I do. But what I’ve seen tells me that it could be a fun spring. Grantsville’s soccer team and Stansbury’s softball team are both loaded with talented underclassmen who just need some game experience to refine their skills. Once they do? Look out.
Stansbury’s baseball team is on the opposite end of the spectrum experience-wise. It seems like I’ve been watching this group of kids play together forever, whether it’s during the high school season or in the summer. Once the Stallions shake off the rust, it will be interesting to see what kind of season they can put together.
I’m looking forward to seeing what all of Tooele County’s teams have in store for us this season — even if there are a few errors along the way.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He, too, is struggling with a few errors early in the spring season when it comes to remembering the difference between an earned run and an unearned run. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.