Think back six years ago, before Stansbury High School opened.
There were two high schools in the most populated area of Tooele County, with students split between Tooele High and Grantsville High. Some wondered if the area needed a third high school.
Some even wondered why there couldn’t just be one large high school, imagining how dominant a single school could be in sports.
Well, wonder no more. Courtesy of the Transcript Bulletin’s sports department (all two of us), say hello to the new Tooele County High School.
We haven’t decided on a mascot yet, but we do know that the new TCHS would be the largest in the state. Using the numbers that the Utah High School Activities Association used to create the region alignment for the past two years, there would be 2,689 students in grades 10-12 at TCHS. That’s 223 more than Alta, which is the largest school in Class 5A.
But how dominant would TCHS be? Well, we’ve decided to start with the sport that Tooele County schools dominate anyway — softball. It is hard to argue against the softball talent in this county, especially since Tooele beat Class 5A champion Lehi and Grantsville and Stansbury both hung with Class 4A champion Spanish Fork this past season.
But what would the TCHS lineup look like? It’s an interesting question. We decided, for the sake of argument, to use the lineups from the just-completed 2015 season. We also decided to keep the players in their regular spots, while acknowledging that there can be some shifting of players to put the best lineup out on the field.
We’d also like to point out the quality of the coaching on this team. Heidi Taylor of Grantsville was the Class 3A Coach of the Year this past season. Stansbury’s Bridget Clinton won her fourth career state title as a head coach, and Melanie Nelson brings the experience of a Division I softball player to the table.
Without further delay, here is the two-deep varsity roster for your Tooele County High School softball team:
Pitcher — This is a position with an embarrassment of riches if you’re picking from all of Tooele County. You have the state’s strikeout leader in Stansbury’s Kimbri Herring, who also has been state-tournament tested. You need someone to take to the circle in a big game? She’s your woman. But it almost seems unfair to call Grantsville’s Sydney Barney your insurance policy. She struck out 13 in a region championship-clinching game against Stansbury. There is also additional pitching depth scattered throughout the roster.
Catcher — The starter would be determined by who the starting pitcher is. Stansbury’s Jade Callister provides pop at the plate in addition to a calming influence behind it. Grantsville’s Autumn Dzierzon has power as well and adds the dimension of speed that makes her a tough out at the top of the lineup in addition to being an excellent student in the classroom.
First base — Tooele’s Payton Hammond made several spectacular plays during the Class 3A state tournament this year, and she also can pitch if needed. Grantsville’s Megan Cafarelli is one of her school’s top all-around athletes and can play both first and third base. Both Hammond and Cafarelli are more-than-capable hitters.
Second base — Stansbury freshman Lindsey Allie already is one of the state’s top infielders, and she’s only going to get better. She also fills a crucial role at the top of the lineup with her speed. If you’re looking for a little more pop, Tooele senior Rylee Whitehouse fits that bill quite well, and she also can be the kind of role model you need with her Academic All-State accolades.
Third base — Tooele senior Alyssa Arslanian combines solid defense with the kind of bat you’d need in the middle of the lineup. Grantsville senior Bailey Critchlow has speed to spare and enough power that she batted in the No. 3 spot for the Cowboys this season, and can also pitch.
Shortstop — This is possibly the most loaded position in the county. Depending on how coaches Taylor, Clinton and Nelson choose to set up their lineup, it would be tough to see one of these two talented players on the bench. And this past season, both of them were juniors. It’s easy to see why Stansbury’s Anjalee Batchelor is considered one of the state’s top players with her powerful bat and her ability to anchor the left side of the infield. Ditto for Grantsville’s Sarah Sandberg, who always seems to come up with the big hit when her team needs it most.
Left field — Youth is the name of the game at this position. Grantsville’s Mariah Sweat is just a junior, and her speed helps turn routine base hits into extra bases fairly regularly. Stansbury’s Kambree Christiansen is only a sophomore, but she’s solid defensively and starting to develop a solid bat.
Center field — Stansbury’s Kilee Christiansen has a knack for coming up with key catches, sometimes in spectacular fashion, as evidenced by her grab in center field in the final inning of the state championship game and her memorable tumble over the center field fence to take away a home run against Tooele. Tooele’s Izzy Nicholas has decent power at the plate and excellent speed, giving her base-stealing ability and good range in the outfield.
Right field — Tooele’s Siearrah Anderson hit 11 home runs this season to go along with a .404 batting average and .865 slugging percentage. Defensively, Stansbury’s Alyssa Warr didn’t commit an error and she also batted .303 with eight stolen bases.
Designated player — Stansbury’s Madison Riolo came up with a huge triple in the state championship game and was lauded for her ability to come up big when it mattered most. Grantsville’s Reannon Justice steadily improved throughout the season and shows good plate discipline.
Utility player — It would be impossible to leave these two players off the roster. Stansbury’s Alyssa Guymon showed her versatility at the state tournament, shifting over from third base to shortstop when Batchelor went down with an injury. For the second year in a row, she recorded the final out of the title game. And Tooele shortstop Trystin Crofts hit eight home runs and also stole 30 bases this year.
So, there you have it. The truly scary thought? All the players that I failed to mention are on the junior varsity team, waiting in the wings should there be an injury. And they’d all be able to fit right into this lineup, which almost assuredly would win a state title.