Bulldog softball ready for season opener

Junior Kennedi Knudsen (wearing red) watches sophomore Lauryn Stewart and junior Hadlee McDonald take preseason batting-practice swings.

GUNNISON—As if to make up for lost time, the return of Gunnison Valley softball brings a loaded start to the schedule.

Coach Tyson Brackett said in the team’s few practices so far this year, he has been pleased with the attitudes of his players. Opening week, which began yesterday at 3A Juab, consists of seven days total, including the home opener today against Richfield, also 3A, and a five-game tournament this weekend.

“I’m just trying to build our team up,” Coach Brackett said. “Because of where we didn’t get a season out there, we don’t really know our team yet and will make adjustments as we go.”

Brackett said the Tuesday opener in Nephi would reveal “where the team is at,” while the Red Rock Classic tournament in St. George would be the “real test” of the early season. The tournament will feature Manti, three 4A matchups and a 5A team.

The team is young this year, even though it only graduated one senior last year. On the roster are one senior, three juniors, eight sophomores and five freshmen.

Brackett said this would be his last season to coach softball, largely so that next year he can watch his son, current sophomore Zach Brackett, play varsity baseball. So despite the promising future of the program in the years to come, Brackett will keep all focus on winning immediately.

Sophomore Rilee Dyreng connects with a soft-toss lob from sophomore teammate Bentlee King.

“We’re excited to get back on the field and excited about the possibilities this team can bring,” he said. “We as the coaches can see it in them; we just have to get them to bring it out.”

He identified junior Kennedi Knudsen and sophomore Lexee Keisel as pitchers. The team’s MaxPreps roster also lists freshmen Robyn Christiansen and Addi Sylvestor as pitchers as well.

The team played three games last season, all on the road. They defeated South Sevier before losing to Salem Hills and Grand County, all within a week, before the spring sports seasons ended early due to the state COVID-19 outbreak.

Atypical of this year is the quick turnaround between tryouts on Monday, March 1 and the first game yesterday. Brackett said the team had not even had the chance to scrimmage itself as of last week.

The schedule lists 27 games in total for the 2021 season.