Season comes to a premature close for San Juan softball team, but future is bright
by Rhett Sifford
The San Juan High School softball team was the underdog in all but one of their 2A Utah State Softball Tournament matchups over the course of their games May 7 and 12 in Duchesne and Spanish Fork.
The Broncos lost their opening-round game against #8 Altamont 14-4 May 7 in Duchesne but bounced back for a solid 16-1 win over #17 North Summit in one-loss play.
They were still in the hunt for the 2022 state title when play resumed in Spanish Fork on May 12. The girls battled hard, holding the #6 Millard Eagles to just two runs.
Unfortunately San Juan was unable to score any runs of their own and the season came to a close with a tough 2-0 loss in the second round of the one-loss bracket.
Bronco Head Coach Mike Bowers described it as the best defensive game the team had played all season. Millard ended up continuing through to the state semifinals before losing to #1 Duchesne, who ultimately won the state championship.
Sadie Cosby had an impressive nine putouts in the game and Halli Palmer was right behind with eight. Pitcher Trinity Whatcott allowed just five hits and struck out eight Eagle batters in a solid six innings of work.
Following the conclusion of the season Coach Bowers said, “This year was the hardest yet most rewarding season I have ever had as a coach.”
He explained that the team suffered much attrition this year due to injuries and other circumstances. The roster dropped from 25 players at the beginning of the season to 14 by its end.
“Softball is a game riddled with failure and is a great sport to teach one how to respond to adversity,” he continued. “We teach players that response and quick recovery time are essential during this process.
“Along with those challenges you need coaches and teammates you can stand with and count on throughout the season.”
Though the ending is a tough pill to swallow, the San Juan players who stuck it out have no reason at all to hang their heads after a fine season.
The Broncos entered the state tournament just under .500, ranked ninth in the state in 2A. They ultimately finished the year with ten wins and 15 losses.
Trinity Whatcott led the team at the plate with a .514 batting average. She had an impressive 36 hits in 70 at bats with 30 runs batted in and 29 runs scored. She hit 14 doubles, two triples, and a home run on the year.
Bailey Brown batted .368 for San Juan with 21 hits in 57 at bats. She drove in 16 runs and scored a team-high 31 herself. She hit five doubles, one triple, and two homers.
Kaeah Howard hit .356 with 16 hits in 45 at bats, 13 RBIs, 18 runs scored, one double, and one triple. Avina Cordova went .340 with 17 RBIs, 19 runs scored, six doubles, and one triple.
Sadie Cosby rounds out the top five for the Broncos with a .333 average. She had 12 hits in 36 at bats, 13 RBIs, 11 runs scored, two doubles, and a home run.
Other batters of note this season include Adriana Johnson who had 16 hits, 19 RBIs, 21 runs scored, two doubles, two triples, and two homers.
Hailey Palmer had 14 hits this season for San Juan, including four doubles and a triple. She drove in 18 runs and scored 21 herself. Halli Palmer also got 14 hits on the year with three triples and seven RBIs.
And Elise Dalley, serving in the backup catcher role for the Broncos, was also a strong hitter. She was .400 for the season with ten hits in 25 at bats, seven RBIs, eight runs scored, and a home run.
Reflecting further on the season, Coach Bowers said he admires many of his players for their willingness to “step outside their comfort zones” to fill vacancies on the diamond when their teammates suffered season-ending injuries.
“While we had injuries and a learning curve to overcome this year,” he stated, “our girls worked hard, were coachable, and never gave up no matter the situation.”
He also says he’s already excited about next season. “With only two players graduating, San Juan will return a seasoned group of players next year. Additionally, Brian Gilson has created a travel team that will benefit our program.
“After an absence from coaching for over ten years, I learned much from this season,” Bowers continued. “Our off-season workouts will be revised and more efficient.
“The future looks bright for San Juan softball.”