County high school
Baseball looks promising
By James Tilson
Mar. 22, 2018
Last year was a banner year for Sanpete County high school baseball, with the Bulldogs of Gunnison Valley High bringing home the 2A State title.
The Bulldogs went 25-3 overall, and 9-1 in region, for the season before winning five straight during the playoffs to take the championship.
The Templars of Manti High, state 2A champs as recently as 2015, also did pretty well, going 11-12 overall and 8-3 in the region before qualifying for the playoffs.
The Hawks of North Sanpete High, however, struggled last year, going 7-19 overall and 0-12 in region.
With realignment, both Manti and North Sanpete are in Region 15 in state 3A this year, while Gunnison Valley remains in 2A, in Region 2A North.
Gunnison remains a power in state 2A, while the Hawks and Templars will be swimming in an extremely balanced and tough Region 15.
Coming off their championship run, Coach Jared Anderson and the Bulldogs are “very excited for the new 2018 season.”
The challenge for Anderson will be to find new players to step up and fill the roles from last year’s senior corps. That team lost four “impact” seniors, but several starters return and will have key experience for the Bulldogs.
One key returner will be Parx Bartholomew. A junior this year, he pitched in the state championship game last year. Anderson calls him a “huge contributor on and off the field.”Another junior starter will be Ty Hill. Hill is a big man at the plate who had key hits during the playoff run last year.
Parker Stewart and Bowen Jensen are also returning starters.
Anderson thinks he has another chance to make a run at state: “We are excited for the year and plan on returning back for a chance to be in the mix at the end and an opportunity to repeat as champions.”
At time of press, the Bulldogs’ record was 5-3 overall, and they had not played a region game. That record was good for fourth in 2A North.
Coach James Nelson has high expectations for the Templar baseball: “Every year we expect to play well into the playoffs.”
Last year’s team made it into the playoffs and made a run at the championship. But this year’s team could be even stronger.
Manti only lost two seniors—Marshall Dotson and Darrin McClain. Although McClain was all-state for the Templars, many key players of last year’s team return.
Matt Nelson was also all-state last year, at shortstop.
Junior Jace Miller will return at catcher—a position he has started since his freshman year.
Kole Brailsford returns at first base, and Braden Miller and Tristan Barnes come back as starting pitchers.
Nelson believes this team will have more power at the plate than last year’s team, but he is counting on strong defense to keep them in games. He also has a lot of players competing for starting positions. That competition will give his team added depth as the season wears on.
At time of press, the Templars were 2-3 overall and 0-1 in region, good enough for sixth in Region 15.
With realignment and new teams, the Hawks look to rebound from last year.
After a tough showing last year by his team, Coach Dan Christensen looks to his returning starters to make up for the five graduating seniors—Wyatt Nunley, Kincade Grasteit, Shandon Wheeler, Jayce Burningham and Connor Justesen: “All of them contributed to the team last year and will be missed this year.”
However, Christensen thinks his team will better this year than last: “I expect us to do better in region than we did last year. We have a stronger team this year with our seniors that will help us lead the team for more wins.”
Christensen lists four seniors that will lead his team—Garrett Christensen, Shawn Taylor, Keegan Eliason and Tanner Madsen—at the plate and on the field.
Another returning starter, Tyler Hadley, will have a key role for the Hawks as a lead-off batter.
Coach Christensen also notes that this year’s team will feature three generations of Christensens—grandfather/head coach Dan, father/assistant coach Bruce and son/player Garrett.
At time of press, the Hawks’ record was 6-3 and 0-2 in region, good enough for fifth place in Region 15.