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Softball season promises to be a thriller

Published: Monday, March 25 2013 11:20 p.m. MDT

McKenna Bull smiles after pitching a scoreless inning as Weber High School plays Layton High School in girl's softball Wednesday, April 11, 2012, in Layton, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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Here are pre-season rankings (determined by coaches' votes)

5A

    • Weber
    • Bingham
    • Taylorsville
    • Riverton
    • Copper Hills
4A
  1. Box Elder
  2. Bonneville
  3. Murray
  4. Bountiful
  5. Herriman
3A
  1. Bear River
  2. Spanish Fork
  3. Juan Diego
  4. Snow Canyon
  5. Stansbury
2A
  1. Manti
  2. San Juan
  3. Parowan
  4. Enterprise
  5. Emery
Success on the softball field

5A

Weber was the overwhelming No. 1 pick in preseason polls, and that’s mostly attributable to the return of senior pitcher McKenna Bull. The team also returns veterans Haylee Chugg and Hannah Charlton and will be in the mix of top teams this season.

Even the defending 5A champions are not immune to preseason struggles. After winning their first game against Bonneville, Weber lost two in a row to Taylorsville and Salem Hills, both very talented teams.

“Weber was our first game, but it really means nothing,” said Taylorsville head coach Rich Kaelin. “I think there are some amazing hitters across the state this year. I really think … hitters are getting better. The hitting is finally starting to catch up to the pitching. I don’t think we have that dominant pitching out there. Teams are going to have to play good defense, and they’re going to have to hit the ball.”

So far, Taylorsville has been doing that, and it’s allowed them to earn some impressive wins, including one against Bingham.

Taylorsville only lost two seniors, but the key to this year’s success is humility. Kaelin said preseason discussions included weaknesses that each player needed to address, and so far, the girls have responded with hard work and team work. Taylorsville is led by pitcher Jaycie LeBaron, who is 3-0 against some of the state’s top teams.

Bingham was picked in the top five and remains there, thanks in large part to some impressive preseason wins and the return of veteran players. Paige Reimann leads the team with three home runs.

Davis, Viewmont, Alta and Riverton are also squads with the right combinations of talent, experience and leadership. Pitcher Cheyenne Norton leads Davis, while Callie Blackham leads the Hawks' offense with five extra base hits.

Viewmont pitcher Eliza Thornley is 7-1 this season, and Caitlyn Larsen and Riley Tyteca have a combined 18 extra base hits, 10 of which are home runs.

Riverton is led by catcher Kyrae Kogianes, short stop Camree Wartman and senior pitchers Whitney Larson and Courtney Platt.

4A

Box Elder was voted the No. 1 preseason pick, but it was by no means unanimous. Bees head coach Mandy Hodgson is okay with that as she sees the 4A race as a wide-open contest.

“There are a lot of really good hitting teams out there,” she said. “I don’t see a heavy favorite. It’s going to come down to who can play defense. Everybody seems to be hitting the ball well.”

The 4A rankings have changed as teams have played tough competition in all classifications, but the Bees remain No. 1. Hodgson said the Bees have the talent to contend for region and state honors, but they are still developing their confidence.

“They need to win some big, close games further down the road so they realize that they can do it,” she said. “They need to trust their hard work.”

The Bees are led by pitcher Baylee Reeves, center fielder Vanessa Quintero, first baseman Cassidy Headrick and second baseman Myranda Hernandez.

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