ST. GEORGE — One can throw the ball really hard, the other can hit it really hard. The two of them, Pine View’s Dakota Donovan and Desert Hills’ Wyatt Bendall, were named co-Region 9 MVPs Thursday in voting by the league’s coaches.
Donovan, a junior right-handed pitcher for the Panthers, went 11-0 and had a fastball that, at times, reached 90 miles an hour. He also had an array of other pitches and taught himself how to throw a “spike-curve” midway through the 2015 season. Donovan had an ERA of 1.13 and got the win out of the bullpen in the state championship game against Cedar.
“Plain and simple, he led this team in just about every way, from his stellar numbers on the mound to what he did with his bat,” Pine View coach Mike Gargano said. “Not only that, but he became a real leader this year, helping to keep his team focused in the regular season and throughout the playoffs.”
Donovan, who played third base when he wasn’t on the mound, had a home run and a double and notched five RBIs in that 13-10 title game victory over the Redmen. He finished the year with a .373 batting average with 31 RBIs.
Bendall, the senior catcher for the co-region champ Thunder, was one of the top hitters in the 3A classification, especially in the power category. He had 14 extra-base hits, including five homers in 27 games. The power at the plate earned him the nickname “Whack-it” Bendall. He also had a cannon for an arm, throwing out nine base runners on attempted steals this past season.
“Behind the dish, on the mound, at the plate, he just put up the numbers time and time again,” Gargano said. “It got so not that many people even tried to steal on him. He’s also one of the vocal leaders on the team. I could see that even from the opposing dugout. He’s one of those kids you love to have on your team.”
The state-champion Panthers placed four other players on the all-region first team. Harrison Goebel, who will play college football at Northern Arizona, topped the list. He hit .329 at the plate and was one of the main starters on the mound for Pine View, posting a 3.05 earned run average on the season. He was the winning pitcher in the state semifinals, going six innings and allowing just two runs in a 5-2 PV win over Cedar.
Senior catcher Hunter Hansen and juniors Logan LaFemina (second base) and Connor Clark (center field) also made the first team from Pine View. The Panthers ended the year on a seven-game winning streak and won 16 of their final 17 contests to capture the state title. PV had started the year 3-7, including a region-opening sweep at the hands of Snow Canyon.
“After those two losses, we made some changes,” Gargano said. “We adjusted how we practiced. We changed how we did drills. Our whole train of thought changed. And the leadership of those guys, Donovan, Hansen, LaFemina and Blake Ence, helped make it happen. Without their help, what happened wouldn’t have happened.”
First-teamers from Desert Hills include pitcher/slugger Brayson Hurdsman, shortstop Braiden Irvin and pitcher Kayson Bowler. Along with Bendall, Irvin and Hurdsman made up a potent top of the batting order for the Thunder. Hurdsman was also an ace on the mound, pitching left-handed. He had five victories on the year and hit for 17 extra bases.
Irvin, a four-year starter and a wizard defensively, also picked up five wins, mostly as a closer for Desert Hills. Bowler, a right-handed starter for DH, was 5-1 on the year.
Three Cedar players made the Region 9 first team. The Redmen, who were third in region, but runner-up at state, placed pitcher Brecken Lewis, shortstop Rykker Tom and third baseman Treyson Esplin on the first team. Lewis was 11-2 on the mound and had a one-hit shutout in the state quarterfinals against Uintah. Tom was an excellent defensive player who also had 16 extra-base hits in 2015. Esplin rapped 10 doubles on the season.
Snow Canyon placed Brady Sargent, Nick Dolce and Brad Grisenti on the first team. Sargent is a three-year starter at catcher who had 13 extra-base hits for the 21-10 Warriors. Dolce was a lefty starter who went 6-2 and also played second base and had nine extra-base hits. Grisenti was a utility infielder who had 11 extra-base hits and also had two wins on the mound.
Keaton Kringlen and Payton Higgins were first-teamers for Canyon View, while Chaz Hansen made first team for Dixie and Drake Hermansen was a first-teamer for Hurricane.
The second-teamers are listed below.
Dakota Donovan (PV)
Wyatt Bendall (DH)
First Team Second Team
Harrison Goebel (PV) Brooks Barney (PV)
Logan LaFemina (PV) Tyler Johnston (PV)
Connor Clark (PV) Chad Nelson (DH)
Hunter Hansen (PV) Cam Winget (DH)
Brayson Hurdsman (DH) Trey Winget (DH)
Braiden Irvin (DH) Josh Boyer (C)
Kayson Bowler (DH) Dusty Hanna (C)
Brecken Lewis (C) Ryan Slack (C)
Rykker Tom (C) Isaac Rhea (SC)
Treyson Esplin (C) Austin Deming (SC)
Nick Dolce (SC) Jake Sargent (SC)
Brady Sargent (SC) Zach Brinkerhoff (CV)
Brad Grisenti (SC) Ty Nielson (CV)
Keaton Kringlen (CV) Colin Hutchings (D)
Payton Higgins (CV) Kyle Williams (H)
Chaz Hansen (D)
Drake Hermansen (H)
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