There’s a price to be paid for being as good as some of Tooele County’s teams are this year.
If we’re honest, nobody is going to touch the Tooele and Stansbury softball teams in Region 11. Grantsville’s softball team is going to toy with its opponents in Region 13. The GHS baseball team looks to be untouchable as well.
But, how much good does that do come state tournament time? When you’ve been playing nothing but weaker competition for a month and a half, how hard is it going to be to flip that switch?
It’s a little easier for the softball teams, as they all have the ability to schedule tough nonregion contests in the middle of the region season thanks to their home-and-home season series setup. Tooele’s about to play Ridgeline, a tough Region 10 opponent that already owns a win over Stansbury. Stansbury is going to play in the Swing for Life Tournament later this month and still has games against Hunter and Corner Canyon on the schedule. Grantsville plays games against Spanish Fork and Bear River – not that they’ll need them, as there’s really not another Class 3A team that should pose much of a threat come state tournament time.
But it’s a tough situation for the Grantsville baseball team. There’s nothing wrong with winning, and certainly not with winning big, as the Cowboys have done so many times during their current eight-game winning streak. But, will it help come time to play a team like Union or Grand in the state tournament? They may not play a game that’s competitive between now and the postseason, and if they get into a tight situation, it makes one wonder if they’ll be prepared to deal with it as well as they might be if they were in a tougher region – or, at least, had enough breathing room in their schedule to face more nonregion opponents. The three-game season series makes that a bit of a challenge.
This is not a slight to the other teams in Regions 11 and 13. I know they’re all working their hardest and trying to put up a fight. It’s not a reflection on them as much as it is a reflection of just how good the softball and baseball teams are out here. But, perhaps it’s time for the state of Utah to try something new with its next realignment, taking competitive balance into consideration along with school size and geography. It would make for more of an exciting season, rather than one that has that feeling of inevitability – even if that inevitability means region championship trophies coming to Tooele County by the truckload.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He wishes there were more competitive region games because nobody likes to watch a blowout. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.