Bulldogs have highs and lows in first week back

After the first week of 2021, the Gunnison Valley softball team had already played more games than in 2020.

In their first week, the Bulldogs went 1-3, including a blowout win and a blowout loss. This excluded a game that only went one inning before being called off due to weather.

Loading the front end of the schedule with games helps to knock the dust off, Coach Tyson Brackett said.

“I just wanted to get a lot of games up front just to see where my team’s at. By the end of this week we’ll understand where our players are at,” Brackett said, alluding to four games scheduled next week that include 2A Duchesne and 6A Granger.

The season began in Juab on Monday of last week.

Junior Raven Pickett takes a swing that resulted in a grand slam last Wednesday against Richfield as part of an offensive explosion that eventually invoked the mercy rule. Meanwhile, junior Hadlee McDonald takes a lead off third base as Coach Tyson Brackett watches.

In that 15-5 loss, there were “too many errors, and you could tell it had been a year” since anyone had faced live pitching, the coach said.

However, he said he was pleased to see some bats come alive as the game progressed.

Two days later, Richfield came to Gunnison. With a much heavier offensive showing, taking an 11-2 lead in the first three innings, the Bulldogs were able to minimize the impact of a few early-season fielding mishaps.

“We started out good. I told [the players], ‘if you’re going to make errors, you’re gonna have to make up for it with the bats,’” Brackett said.

Among those bats to make up for it was that of junior Raven Pickett, who went 4-4 with 9 RBIs, and sophomore Rilee Dyreng, who went 4-5 and hit for the cycle, according to MaxPreps.

As part of Brackett’s push to play often early in the year, Gunnison Valley went to the annual Red Rock Classic in St. George. This year, weather caused for one “long day down there” instead of two full days and five games of inter-divisional play.

The team arrived to face Desert Hills at 6:45 a.m. One umpire who assumed the game was cancelled delayed play. The game went one inning and was postponed, never to be finished.

The team next drove to face Crimson Cliffs.

The coach said junior Kennedi Knudsen pitched well and “was pretty much ‘on.'”

Before ending after just 4.5 innings, the Bulldogs made a late push in the 5th inning with 2 runs that fell two short of tying the game.

Next, as the “wet and cold” day approached evening, Gunnison Valley went back to Desert Hills to face Manti, where Manti won 23-0 in a 3-inning game.

“Yeah, they kicked our butts. They came to play, and we didn’t. You gotta show up to play against Manti,” said Brackett.

“I know Gunnison is very young this year, but Tyson will work his girls to get them to where they need to be,” said Manti Coach Susan Hatch.

Yesterday through today bring consecutive home games against region-rival Piute, South Sevier and Duchesne, then at Granger on Friday. After this week, the “measuring stick” process of determining “where the team is at” will help the team move along into the middle of the season and help the coaches know where to focus efforts, Brackett said.

“This team wants to work hard and get back to where we were in the previous two seasons,” Brackett said. In order to excel, he said the team needed all of the team’s good hitters to get timing down and pitching and defense to tighten. He called shortcomings in these categories as products of the early season.