Sadly for baseball fans, the hardball season has drawn to a close in Region 9 and the 3A ranks. But what a year it was.
Dixie recovered from a region-opening sweep at the hands of Desert Hills to win the region and the state championship. Desert Hills lost a stunner late in the year to last-place Cedar that cost them a No. 1 seed and a share of the region title. Pine View used a cast of new faces and fill-ins for their myriad injuries to make a playoff run. And Snow Canyon persevered all the way to championship Saturday, enduring heartbreak along the way.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite quotes and photos from the 2017 baseball season. Thanks to the coaches and players for access and candidness this season. And thanks to St. George News sports photographer Robert Hoppie for capturing so many great moments throughout the year. Enjoy.
2017 Region 9 baseball quotes of the year
- “Before that pitch, I put my arm around him and said, ‘Cooper, when I drew the lineup card up, your name was put in this spot for a reason. Let’s go make it happen.’ Little did I know he was going to go take it over the wall.” – Dixie coach Danny Ipson, just before Cooper Vest hit the game-winning homer in the 3A championship game
- “This is a dream. I had no idea something like this would ever happen to me in my life, but it came and you have to love it.” – Vest, after hitting the homer
- “I knew he was going to come up big, but I didn’t know he was going to hit a freakin’ bomb there.” – Dixie’s Tyson Fisher, after Vest’s game-winning homer
- “Coach told me if I wanted to play this year that I had to hit the weight room. That’s what I did. I’ve been in there a lot, trying to get stronger.” – Dixie slugger Kaden Leavitt, after hitting his third homer in 2 1/2 weeks in the state semis
- “I don’t think anyone will be surprised if it’s two Region 9 teams playing for the championship on Saturday.” Pine View coach Troy Wall
- “I’m really proud of the way we battled. We gave great effort. The guys really put together good at-bats and battled at the plate, but we missed some little things – a passed ball, an error or two, and we hit into two big double plays at inopportune times. We certainly had our chances.” – Pine View’s Wall, after his team lost a heartbreaking 7-6 game to Park City in the state quarterfinals
- “Thorpe came out and he was competing. He’s really good. And Desert Hills is known to be a really good baseball team from down south, from Region 9, and I knew I had to come out and be at my best.” – Park City ace Ryan Brady after beating Drew Thorpe and Desert Hills 1-0
- “When he’s on, which is just about every outing, he’s hard to beat. We threw him a lot this summer and every outing he gave up one or no runs. We weren’t sure if it was the other teams or if he was that good. But he just kept doing it over and over. We finally figured out that he’s pretty darn good.” – Desert Hills coach Chris Allred, referring to sophomore ace Drew Thorpe
- “The thing with Jagun, and I told him this, is that he’s like D (Dakota Donovan) the past few years – every time he’s on the mound, we feel like we’re going to get a win.” Pine View coach Troy Wall, referring to ace pitcher Jagun Leavitt
- “He’s just got great athletic skills, but the big thing with him is that as a player, he’s one of the more competitive kids there is. No matter what it is we’re doing, he wants to win. His motor is always on and that’s what makes him special.” – Ipson, referring to lead-off hitter Hobbs Nyberg
- “It was great to see him out there, with his old stance, in the batter’s box battling.” – Jesse Shipp, father of Britton Shipp, who was severely injured in a UTV accident 2 1/2 years ago. Britton got his first at-bat of the season against Pine View
- “Oh man, how did I miss that one? I’m glad I got on base, but I thought I had that one pitch. I thought I was going to rip it.” – Britton Shipp, after the at-bat in which he drew a base on balls
- “Basically we’re just trying to go out there and take care of business and maybe get home field advantage in the playoffs. But man, that’s Desert Hills, a great program for years now. We’d better be ready to play Friday.” – Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist, after beating Desert Hills in a Tuesday game
- “When we had (Cody) Riddle and (Weston) Sampson go down, we weren’t sure what we were going to do with the pitching staff. But he’s really come through.” – PV’s Wall, on how Jagun Leavitt became his ace
- “He was starting at the beginning of the year, but lost his job as some other guys stepped up. But he kept his head up and worked hard and it showed in batting practice. You’ve got to be happy for guys like that.” – SC’s Reed Secrist, after Parker Ence homered to led the Warriors to a win
- “The ball rolled our way today, and that hasn’t happened a lot this year. But the big thing is the kids believed in themselves. Everybody contributed. Guys were making plays in the field and swinging the bat.” – Cedar coach Eric Fieldsted, after his team upset Desert Hills 8-5
- “It wasn’t magic or a gut feeling or anything, we had him slated there to hit if the situation came up. He has a little tighter, more compact swing and we felt like he would be a good choice to maybe sneak one through a hole and get a hit and that’s exactly what he did.” – Dixie’s Ipson, after Cooper Vest hit a game-winning single against Pine View
- “It’s unfortunate that we came out on the bad side of that game last Thursday, but those things happen. But that’s why you play the games and that’s why you play seven innings.” SC’s Reed Secrist, referring to a 6-5 loss to Dixie after leading 5-0
- “It was a long, crazy inning and it was kind of a role reversal from Tuesday night. We gave them some runs with errors and things and they were the aggressors Tuesday. Tonight, we were the aggressors. That’s who we are and the way we play.” – DH’s Allred, after the Thunder scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth to beat Pine View
- “I got done with the JV game and checked the lineup for pinch hitters, ’cause usually I’m a pinch hitter and I was like, ‘What? Where am I?’ Then I check it up and I was the DH and I was like, oh man, let’s go. I was happy, I was excited and I was ready.” DH’s Brigham Gardner, after stroking a two-run double to help beat Pine View
- “We definitely feel the pressure. We didn’t pull any punches yesterday when we had our weekly team meeting. We told them we had to come over here and get this win. Whether that tightens a guy up or not, it doesn’t matter. That’s where you earn your money. It was a must win, there’s no other way about it.” – Dixie’s Ipson, after his team rallied to beat Snow Canyon
- “That’s what I kept asking myself. How did this happen? Did it really happen? It was a wild one, that’s for sure.” – Hurricane coach Jon Homer, after his team blew a six-run lead in the seventh, but won the game in the eighth
- “That’s kind of a running theme for us, cause when I first talked about being resilient, one of our players said, ‘Hey coach, what’s that?’ So we talked about being resilient and going and getting the victory.” – Homer, after the Cedar win
- “We’ve heard it all year, that we’re not going to be very good, and we don’t mind it at all. We lost a lot of big kids. We lost a lot of things. But one thing these kids have more than anything is heart. They are so coachable. They work harder than any group we’ve ever had here and that goes a long way.” – Pine View’s Wall, after his team opened region with three straight wins
- “They really swing the bats, but I just wanted to come back and limit them the rest of the way. I made a mistake, but it was just one pitch and I can’t let one pitch affect how I pitch the rest of the game.” – Desert Hills pitcher Chad Nelson, after his win over Dixie
- “I can’t wait to see what this lineup does in region. We’re stacked from one through nine and we’ve got a deep bench, too.” – Dixie pitcher Stockton Sorden
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