High school baseball: MVPs displayed great leadership, plenty of clutch performances
Lars Lofgren, Skyline
Speaking of someone helping lead his team to a long-awaited state championship, how 'bout this guy?
Lofgren, a senior pitcher, went 6-1 with a stellar 1.11 ERA during the regular season, then won two more games in the 4A tournament to help the Eagles soar to the first state championship in baseball in the 50-year history of the Salt Lake City school.
"I could go with four of five guys as our MVP this year, but Lars was our No. 1 player throughout the year," said Skyline coach Erik Hansen, whose team went 23-7 overall. "He gave us a lot of confidence whenever he was on the mound. In eight of his nine starts, he didn't give up more than two runs in any of those starts. So we always knew we could win with him on the mound. We knew if we could get three or four runs with him pitching, we could win.
"He hit just under .300 for the year, but he really came on the last six or seven games of the season and hit well in the playoffs. He got hot down the stretch and, in our last game against Timpanogos, Lars led off the ninth inning with a single and came around and scored the winning run in the championship game.
"He's one of the most competitive guys we have. He doesn't ever back down from a challenge," Hansen said of Lofgren. "When we were in California, we played a team with big third baseman, a mammoth kid who played football. I told him to stay off-speed with this kid, but he threw his fastball right by him and struck that kid out four times. He had one of his better games down there, 14 strikeouts and an 8-2 win down. He loved to challenge hitters.
"He's definitely a competitor. He works really hard in the offseason, and he does all the little things that you want your players to do to get better."
Austin Ovard, Snow Canyon
Much like Ottesen with American Fork, Ovard is a pitcher/shortstop and one of those slightly built guys who proves once again that big — and great — things often come in small packages.
Ovard's pitching numbers were truly outstanding — a 6.1 record with a 1.58 ERA, and he had 51 strikeouts compared to just eight walks. He limited opposing batters to a paltry .157 batting average and displayed his superb mental toughness on the final day of the 3A tournament. After dropping a tough 2-0 decision to Juan Diego that forced a second winner-take-all game between the same two teams, Ovard came on to pitch the last two innings in the finale and preserved the Warriors' 5-1 title-taking win.
At the plate, Ovard batted .417 with six doubles, six triples, two home runs and 34 runs RBIs this season.
"He did it for us all year long," said Snow Canyon coach Reed Secrist. "He's such a great kid. Every day, you knew what to expect from him; he did it every day, day in and day out. Every day I got the same effort out of him, and every day was good. We threw him when we really needed wins and we felt like he was our best guy on the mound, confidence-wise, because he knew what he could do and knew what he had would get it done."
Over Ovard's three-year prep career, he went a superb 17-2
"You look at him and he's a pretty skinny kid, but he generates real good bat speed, can move in the field and he's got a real good arm," Secrist said. "He even hits with some power, too. It was great to have him on my team, and it's gonna be bad to watch him leave."
Ovard will serve an LDS Church mission before beginning his collegiate baseball career at Salt Lake Community College.
"He has ability to play shortstop in college," Secrist said. "He has great range, a great arm, and he can play second base, too, if he was called on to do that.