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Sandy Journal

Jordan baseball gears up for season with five signed to play in college

Mar 09, 2023 10:02AM ● By Travis Barton

From left to right: Cole Kershaw, Cade Nalder, Stockton Mathis and Hunter Gatti all signed to continue playing baseball in college back in December. The four, along with another signee in Carter Perry, will take the field for Jordan again in March. (Photo courtesy Chad Fife)

The assembly line continues. 

Jordan High baseball is known for continually churning out talented athletes to colleges around the country. Whether it was Colton Shaver in 2014 (the former Mr. Baseball now plays professionally in the Toronto Blue Jays organization) or the multiple who signed in 2018, this year appears to be no different. 

Four players signed in December to continue their careers while another announced his commitment in January. 

Head coach Chad Fife, now entering his 10th season leading the program, said they normally have anywhere from two to six players sign each year. 

This year’s crop includes Cole Kershaw, a University of Utah commit and second-team all-state first baseman a year ago. “Cole is a big country boy, really hard worker, good work ethic,” Fife said. 

Cade Nalder, a catcher/outfielder, was a first-team all-stater last year hitting .522 with 45 RBIs, is going to Utah Tech University. “Work ethic is off the charts, works his guts out in the weight room, he gets it,” Fife said. 

Hunter Gatti was also a first-team all-stater as a left fielder in 2022 who batted .516. He’ll be attending Utah State Eastern. “He’s a hitting machine, 4.0 student,” Fife said. 

Stockton Mathis will join Gatti at Utah State Eastern, the center fielder and leadoff hitter was an honorable mention all-state player a year ago. “He can cover a lot of ground in the outfield,” Fife said. 

Carter Perry completes the trio heading to Utah State Eastern. Fife described the utility player as a “natural talent.” 

The five are only half of Jordan’s senior-heavy team with 10 this season, and Fife expects a few more to sign as well. 

The Beetdiggers enter the season off a solid decade of success that includes two state titles and multiple deep runs in the playoffs whether in 5A or 6A. Jordan was co-region champs a year ago with the No. 3 seed. 

“We should swing it really well,” Fife said of the upcoming season. “Hopefully we can pitch it, if we can pitch it we’ll be pretty good I think.” 

He noted five or six guys will be vying for starting spots, giving him plenty of options to work with. But he’s most excited about the senior class. 

“They’ve been really good since they were little,” Fife said. 

Jordan finished the last two regular seasons as the No. 3 seed in 5A (2022) and 6A (2021) where they fell in the semifinals. 2019 saw the team reach the semifinals as well, with 2018 ending as state champions. 

Fife attributes the high standards to their discipline. Academics come first, he said. “We stick to our rules, stick to our guns on grades and attendance.” 

Jordan baseball was even recognized by the American Baseball Coaches Association last year as one of four Utah schools that posted a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale for the entire 2021-22 academic year. “Which was pretty cool,” Fife said. 

Athletic Director Joel Sundquist said the baseball players are some of their highest achieving student athletes. That success, he said, transfers over to other parts of life. 

“Having those high-water marks of success on the field, success in the classroom and success at home is exactly what Chad’s done a really good job of doing.”

On the field, Fife says he plays the best guys regardless of class which contributes to the program’s success. 

The team is also active in the community doing service projects like Thanksgiving Heroes, feeding the homeless or buying valentines for others at school. 

“If someone’s in need, we’ll jump in and help,” he said. 

Sundquist points to the consistency and culture that Fife’s built which makes the program perennial contenders. He highlighted the National Classic, an invite-only tournament that Jordan regularly plays in giving kids more college exposure. 

“(Chad’s) done an incredible job building an appealing program,” Sundquist said. “One that gives kids opportunities in high school and at the next level. Success breeds success, it builds upon itself. Winning is hard, but winning breeds winners and winners gravitate kids who want to have a highly competitive program.”

Despite Jordan moving to 4A next year as part of the latest realignment and as a sign of the program’s status, baseball was allowed to stay in 5A with Fife and Sundquist petitioning to stay up, even willing to move to 6A if needed. 

Perhaps adding to the program’s impressive nature is its lack of a feeder program in the boundary. 

“We’ve been fortunate enough to win and people come,” Fife said. 

He highlighted how their tryouts numbers tend to be in the mid to high 30’s, meaning he keeps almost everyone. 

It’s a successful program that will continue this spring with games starting in early March. Sundquist, who used to coach against Fife as the Copper Hills baseball coach, said he’s seen from it from both the outside and now inside. 

“He's done a good job of continuing that culture and having really high expectations and kids tend to raise to those expectations.”