Jordan finishes season sharing Region 7 baseball title
Jun 05, 2018 01:18PM
● By Ron Bevan
Junior Kyson Stein puts the ball into play during a recent Jordan boys baseball game. Stein, a lefty, played outfield and also pitched this season for the Beetdiggers. (Photo by Ron Bevan/City Journals)
By Ron Bevan | firstname.lastname@example.org
When realignment gave the Jordan boys baseball team lemons, they went out and made lemonade.
Every three years, the Utah High School Athletic Association (UHSAA) analyzes each school’s enrollment and decides whether schools need to move from one classification to another. For 2017–18 school year, the UHSAA even created a new 6A category for the largest of schools.
This meant that some 5A schools that hadn’t been in the same region would now be foes. And for Jordan, that meant a pairing with baseball powerhouse Cottonwood High School, last year’s 5A state champions.
But it didn’t scare off the Beetdiggers, who found success with the leadership of a strong senior class. Jordan managed to squeeze out a 13-2 region record, tying itself with Cottonwood as region co-champions.
“We entered the state tournament as the second-place team for the region,” Jordan baseball coach Chad Fife said. “Cottonwood got the top seed because they beat us two out of the three times we faced them.”
Jordan’s growth this year in baseball is significant, considering last season the Beetdiggers barely made the state playoffs as the third-place team in region play and was knocked out of the winner’s bracket in the first round. Jordan picked up a single win in the loser’s bracket before being bounced out of the tournament in the third round.
The difference this season lay in the maturity of the team. Jordan suited up a total of 13 seniors, all with several years of experience on the team.
“Leadership this season was at the core of our team,” Fife said. “Last year we had no seniors on the team. So this has been a good experience for us. All the seniors have been together for so long that they know how to play good ball together. They cover the diamond very well.”
The Beetdiggers were usually led on the field by senior right-handed pitcher Gage Edwards. A mountain in stature at 6'4" and 220 pounds, Edwards was an intimidating presence on the mound with a variety of pitches to keep batters occupied. Edwards carried a 2.36 earned run average into the state tournament and struck out over 50 batters.
“He throws very hard,” Fife said. “He is just a gamer. He comes ready to play every game.”
Edwards’ value to the Beetdiggers extended from the mound. He is also one of the top hitters on the team, and would play catcher or third base so his bat could be used in every game.
Third baseman Noah Hennings is also finishing a four-year career at Jordan this season. Hennings’ defense is solid and the Beetdiggers use him not only at the hot corner but also as shortstop when needed. But it is his batting that has helped Jordan’s success this year, knocking in 28 runs and scoring an additional 26 of his own.
“Hennings is a good hitter who has a lot of experience,” Fife said.
Fife contributes a lot of his team’s success to the cohesiveness of the group. He said his players were involved in a variety of service projects off the field that he believes not only strengthened the team but the players themselves.
In February the entire team went to a local homeless shelter and helped feed the residents.
“They loved doing that project,” Fife said. “It may have been the highlight of the year for them, and certainly helped them understand the world we live in.”
The team also mentors special education students at the school, spending time with them and tutoring them when needed.
As for the future, Fife isn’t that worried about losing 13 seniors.
“We have a strong junior group as well as a sophomore unit,” Fife said. “Things are looking good for the future at Jordan.”