Skyline baseball finishes strong, secures third seed for state tournament
May 23, 2018 01:38PM
● By Josh McFadden
Skyline senior baseball player Dakota Porter waits for a pitch in a game earlier this season against West. (Photo/Paul Jensen)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
The 2018 season was one of streaks for the Skyline baseball team. Thankfully for the Eagles, they ended the regular season on a good note.
Skyline went 8-7 in Region 6 to place third in league standings. The Eagles were two games ahead of Highland, which nailed down the final playoff spot. Skyline barely missed out on the chance to host a first-round playoff game, finishing just a game behind runner-up Murray. Olympus ran away with the Region 6 title with an undefeated 15-0 mark.
Considering how the season began and that Skyline endured a rough patch in the middle of the region schedule, the third-place finish was a nice reward for the team. Head coach Eric Morgan said he wasn’t panicking even when his team was struggling.
“I'm actually really pleased we secured the third spot while finishing above .500,” he said. “I knew we would turn things around. Our guys never stopped believing we would compete in region.”
At one point, Skyline was 3-6 in region play. The Eagles had dropped five in a row, all by at least seven runs. Of course, those all came against the top two teams in the league, so when the Eagles resumed play, they reeled off a much-needed winning streak.
Skyline won two of three games against Highland and then swept East to finish the regular season.
“I think we finally gained confidence of who we are as a team,” Morgan said. “We've had a few guys step up, most notably Luke Evans as our (designated hitter) and Jack Garver on the mound. It's been fun to watch them step up.”
These two players were far from the only ones who made a difference in Skyline’s late-season turnaround. Morgan said he got a lot out of his five seniors, Ashton Graham (pitcher), Dakota Porter (first baseman), Isaac Storheim (second baseman), Jack Garver (left fielder/pitcher) and Taylor Larsen (centerfielder). Morgan also trusted these seniors and gave them significant responsibility.
“They've put together a few team activities; I made them run an entire practice, take control of pre-game speeches, etc.,” Morgan said. “We moved Isaac to second base a few weeks ago; he has played awesome and didn't question why. He just went out and played.”
Morgan also said he has enjoyed watching his players overcome adversity and choose to keep working hard even after tough losses. He’s pleased with how his upperclassmen have led by example and with how the youth on the team have stepped up.
“The best parts of the season has been seeing the players’ fight and seeing the young guys grow up,” he said. “We have some 9th, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders in the lineup; it’s been great to see them come together as a team. The seniors have taken great strides in their leadership roles.”
Morgan said pitching and execution would be critical if the team hoped to advance into the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
The players were also eager for a shot at some upset wins.
“We are very excited,” Morgan said as the playoffs began. “Anything can happen in the postseason. I have been talking a lot about believing. Hopefully, we can carry the momentum into the playoffs and win the first game.”
And that’s exactly what the Eagles did.
The Eagles took their 11-14 overall record into the state tournament where they won their first-round game 11-5 at Box Elder on May 15, before falling to defending champs Cottonwood 3-6 the following day. They were defeated by Olympus May 19 to end the Eagles season.