MANTI—With weather warming up a little quicker than in past seasons, baseball and softball will be back in Manti for the first time in what seems like forever.
This time last year, Manti’s baseball and softball teams revved up for a new season, but within days of the first game, the sports world stopped due to the pandemic, and a whole batch of seniors were stripped of their last season on the mound.
A total of eight seniors (five from baseball, three from softball) left Manti with only a few games to remember 2020 by, but with a fresh and promising group ready to play for a full season for the first time in two years, the Templars are going to have plenty of energy to get out.
Judging on a very small sample size that isn’t going to tell much of anything accurate, but based on a two-game sample from 2020, last year’s Templars weren’t exactly headed in the right direction.
Manti’s baseball team lost their only two games last season to Enterprise, 11-6, and South Sevier, 4-2. Enterprise even managed to score eight runs in an inning on Manti.
That said, it was still a season of high expectations after the Templars had performed well in a 16-win season the year prior. Coach James Nelson’s squad looked to be trending upward from its many seasons in the middle of the pack. The trend for Manti should continue forward this year as seven seniors are expected to return to the diamond.
They’ll need all the help they can get taking on four games of their 20-game schedule against teams ranked inside the Deseret News preseason top-5 in 3A and 2A. Two of those are region matchups against No. 2 Juab while the Wasps are the midst of a special year for their entire athletic program. The other two are No. 3 Richfield and 2A No. 3 Enterprise, the Templars first two games of the season.
The Templars’ premier invitational appearance will come at the Frozen Rope Shootout in Salina on March 19-20, where Manti will face 2A Milford, Emery, and 4A Ogden, then play South Sevier as part of the North Sevier Invitational before coming home.
Nelson’s record with the Templars since 2016 is dead-even at 50-50, according to Deseret News, so this season will be an opportunity to not only surge forward in the competitive 3A baseball landscape, but make a name for themselves as a winning program.
Manti’s home opener will not come until the Templars host Union on March 25.
Another year, another season, where almost everyone is watching for Manti softball. For many teams, the pandemic halted sports as teams were struggling or were just getting started.
Not for the Lady Templars. Stopping the 2020 season for Manti was like pulling the emergency brake in a street race.
Manti was seven games into their season in 2020 before the pandemic cancellation, and they were scorching their competition to the tune of a 6-1 record, nearly all against competition from higher classifications. Their only loss had come from a 4-1 defensive grind out against 5A Springville, a team currently No. 3 in 5A rankings this year. Their final contest was an 18-0 blowout in three innings against 6A American Fork.
Bringing back three seniors and most of their lineup, the Lady Templars are reloaded, and the state knows it. Deseret News ranked Manti at No. 2 in the 3A polls, just behind Grantsville.
Coach Susan Hatch’s squad has their hands full in non-region play, to say nothing of how competitive Region 14 is expected to be. For starters, Manti will open their season at home with 5A Lehi.
After the home opener, the Lady Templars are off to St. George for a five-game stand in the Redrock Invitational at Desert Hills High School. Those five games come against a number of ranked teams, namely 4A No. 5 Bear River, 2A No. 3 Gunnison Valley, and 4A No. 2 Snow Canyon, in addition to matchups with Desert Hills and Crimson Cliffs.
After the invitational, Manti’s plate will continue to be filled with 4A No. 5 Cedar City and 3A No. 3 Carbon. Then the Templars can breathe easy.
Just kidding, they’re in Region 14. Bring on No. 4 North Sanpete, and competitive squads in Juab and Union.
Seven ranked matchups in a 25-game schedule will be more than enough to test this year’s iteration of Manti to see if they can repeat the success of their title run just five years ago.
Manti’s home opener with Lehi will be this Wednesday.