San Juan softball team continues growth, looks to be playing on last day of the season
If you only look at a list of wins and losses or the 3A Region 12 standings, you would perceive that the 2021 softball season has been a struggle for the San Juan Lady Broncos.
But, as in every sport, there are numerous successes that never appear on a stat sheet or get reflected in a win/loss record.
That’s how first-year San Juan Head Softball Coach Monty Lee describes his team when saying they are inexperienced but at the same time very coachable.
Longtime assistant to Coach Craig Swenson, who retired after the 2020 season was shortened by COVID-19 cancellation, Coach Lee has taken over a program that will need to be rebuilt from the ground up.
The Lady Broncos face adversity day-in and day-out. From missing the experience they could have gained during the cancelled season to competing against big 3A schools whose depth chart dwarfs their own, they find themselves consistently behind the eight-ball.
But Coach Lee said the girls haven’t allowed the challenges of a tough year to get them down. “I have seen steady improvement in our young ladies and they have kept their heads up and hung in there,” he explained.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our seniors. They have gone through so much. Missing out on an entire season, adjusting to a new coach, saying goodbye to a coach they grew up with and loved, and taking on the role of team leaders was a tough responsibility that they embraced without any complaints,” Lee said. “What great examples they are to me, our assistant coaches, and teammates.
“I have also been blessed with awesome help,” he continued. “Words cannot express how grateful I am to have had really good, knowledgeable assistance. All in all it’s been a good season and we’re looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year plays out.”
Coach Lee is no stranger to successful athletic programs. He’s well known for many years of successful football at San Juan High School.
“I’d like to get back to the point where softball is a recognized sport at San Juan High School,” he said. “My goal is to turn the program over to someone else the way Coach Swenson turned it over to me.
“He built a great program that he could be proud of. Those are big shoes to fill, and I hope to keep it at that level.”
“We have good athletic ability,” he continued. “We’re going to take a walk-before-we-run approach, looking to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today.”
Lee said the goal the team has set for themselves is to be playing on the last day of the season. “I want the girls to have a good time. We can learn from losing as long as we don’t learn to lose.”
The Lady Broncos have their work cut out for them, but their never-say-die attitude puts them in position to make it happen.
As of April 20, their 4-12 record is good enough for the #14 spot in the 3A Softball RPI standings. The top 16 teams qualify for the state tournament, which begins on May 8.
Their four wins came against Richfield, Enterprise, and two against South Sevier. This past Friday, April 16, they came close to their fifth win of the year against #6 Emery in Castle Dale.
Midway through the game, San Juan led the Lady Spartans 5-3. But Emery outscored them 8-3 down the stretch.
Though the Lady Broncos were unable to complete the upset, taking the #6 team in the state to the wire is a good indication of their growth this year.
Emilie Palmer drove in four runs in the 11-8 loss, Sadie Brown had three, and Synessa Atcitty got one RBI in what may have been the girls’ best game of the season.
By the time you read this, the team will have closed out their regular season with a tough matchup against #4 Grand County Tuesday, April 20.
We’ll have an update in the April 28 edition of the San Juan Record and look ahead to the upcoming state tournament.