COMMENTARY – Undefeated. It’s that word that every coach has a love/hate relationship with.
All coaches want to be undefeated, but the reality of doing it is slim. Even if the coach’s team is undefeated for awhile, it serves as a perfect motivator for opponents. Most coaches agree that staying undefeated requires a special combination of dominance, timely play-making and a little luck.
The Snow Canyon softball team is at 13-0 and has won all six of its Region 9 games. Under the guidance of Brandyn Sargent and energetic assistant Jesse Shipp, SC has beaten all challengers.
The Lady Warriors have certainly been dominant. They beat their two fiercest region challengers, Pine View and Canyon View, by five runs each. They have scored 91 runs and allowed just 19 this season (average score, about 7-1). In a sport where the winning team might have three or four runs on a regular basis, Snow Canyon has scored at least 10 runs three times and at least seven runs eight times.
The Lady Warriors have also had some timely play-making. Against Dixie, the Lady Warriors were nursing a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning. Dixie had runners on first and second with no one out and the Flyers batter hit a little flare to shallow right field. If it falls in, Dixie has the bases loaded with no outs (at the very least). But second baseman Skylar Gates made a spectacular over the shoulder catch, then wheeled and doubled the Dixie base-runner off of first base to essentially save the victory.
In the season-opener against Springville back in early March, Mitzi Gates hit a home run when things looked bleak for SC, sparking a rally to beat the Red Devils.
And yes, the Lady Warriors have been lucky. In that same Dixie game, the Flyers had multiple opportunities to make a 1-0 lead bigger, plus Dixie’e Krista DeKorver actually allowed fewer hits than SC’s Brytni Gurney, but DeKorver allowed four walks and the Dixie defense committed two critical errors, allowing two unearned runs.
Against Hurricane, Snow Canyon couldn’t get its bats going. The Lady Warriors were lucky to escape with a 1-0 decision due to a Skylar Gates solo homer and Gurney’s two-hit pitching performance.
Staying undefeated takes all those things and more. Will Snow Canyon go unbeaten this season?
Well, experience has shown that it is not likely. But the Lady Warriors don’t have to. They’ve already built a two and a half game lead in region, which means they will likely be region champs and host the first couple of rounds of the playoffs. Plus, the state tournament is in St. George and it’s a double-elimination tourney.
So, undefeated or not, the No. 1-ranked Lady Warriors have already declared that they will be a force to be reckoned with in May when it really matters.
DH was just 5-3 in preseason, but has turned on the jets in region play, getting road wins at Dixie, Snow Canyon and Canyon View.
The Thunder, who beat the Falcons 8-4 Friday in windy north Cedar City, have been called, by various opponents, “plucky,” and “scrappy.” One opposing assistant coach, when asked to describe why Desert Hills keeps winning, shrugged his shoulders and said, “They just do. I guess maybe it’s their defense.”
Against CV, the Thunder never trailed and once again played error-free baseball. Desert Hills was error-free in three of its five region wins and only committed one error against Pine View.
Of course, in high school baseball, that kind of solid defense involves the whole team, but starts at shortstop, where sophomore Braiden Irvin has been a wunderkind. The youngster, already in his second year at the varsity level, has committed just three errors in 13 games for the Thunder.
Kaleb Caplin also deserves a lion’s share of credit. He has taken the mound on most of the big games for Desert Hills and is also hitting .462, second on the team. He leads the team in walks drawn as well.
Will the Thunder go through region undefeated? Like the Lady Warriors above, it’s not likely. There are too many other good teams and other factors., but DH is in great position to get the region’s top seed and there is no doubt the Thunder have established themselves as a state contender.
In soccer, I don’t know that anyone except the Desert Hills soccer team saw it coming, Friday’s 2-0 Thunder win over Dixie. The Flyers had won five straight and made scoring goals on them harder than trying to steal a beefsteak from a grizzly bear.
But the Thunder, who nine days earlier had lost to Pine View 4-0, scored two on Dixie and turned the table on the Flyers by shutting them out. Goalkeeper Vincent Enfield and the DH defense got it done.
That leaves the two teams tied with 15 points atop Region 9. Pine View stayed essentially a game back with a 3-2 win over Hurricane. The Panthers have 12 points, while Hurricane and Snow Canyon have 10 and Cedar is right there with nine. Keep in mind, with five games left, two of those six teams will not participate in the state tournament.
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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