Prep softball: Many intriguing match-ups in 3A’s first round

Cedar celebrates Sage Oldroyd's (15) grand slam, Dixie vs. Cedar, Softball St. George, Utah, Apr. 4, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

With the Utah 3A softball tournament starting this Saturday, there are legitimately seven or eight teams that could win it all, including a No. 4-seed (Union). Grantsville and Cedar are both underrated, even as No. 1 seeds. Desert Hills has to locate its offense to make any noise beyond the first round. Juab and Bear River also look good. Below are team capsules and STGNews.com predictions for the first round:

REGION 12 POD @ JUAB
Game 1 – Ridgeline vs. Stansbury

RIVERHAWKS
Coach: Michael Anderson
Overall Record: 19-8
Strength of Schedule: 1.7
Record against tournament teams: 5-2
Current Ranking: 10th
Region Finish: #2 in Region 11

STALLIONS
Coach: Bridget Clinton
Overall Record: 17-8-1
Strength of Schedule: 4.1
Record against tournament teams: 4-4
Current Ranking: 8th
Region Finish: #3 in Region 10

The Riverhawks rode an earlier 11-game winning streak and won 15 out of 17. But Stansbury is out of tough Region 10.
STGNEWS PICK: Stansbury

Game 2 – Juab vs. Hurricane

WASPS
Coach: Tina Squire
Overall Record: 19-3-1
Strength of Schedule: 8.0
Record against tournament teams: 8-0
Current Ranking: 1st
Region Finish: 1st in Region 12

TIGERS
Coach: Ryan Smith
Overall Record: 6-9-2
Strength of Schedule: 1.9
Record against tournament teams: 1-6
Current Ranking: 15th
Region Finish: 4th in Region 9

Juab not only has the strongest SOS, but is also the only team not to lose to any other tournament teams. Hurricane returns to the playoffs after missing last year. This game is the first round’s biggest mismatch.
STGNEWS PICK: Juab

REGION 9 POD @ CEDAR

Game 1 – Cedar City vs. Carbon

REDS
Coach: Chris Weaver
Overall Record: 16-7-1
Strength of Schedule: 5.9
Record against tournament teams: 9-2
Current Ranking: 5th
Region Finish: 1st in Region 9

DINOS
Coach: Wade Williams
Overall Record: 13-8
Strength of Schedule: 5.6
Record against tournament teams: 2-6
Current Ranking: 9th
Region Finish: #4 in Region 12

Not an easy first round matchup for the Reds. But no one is playing better than they are right now. The top two hitters in 3A (Denim Henkel & Dream Weaver) have played lights out. Bryton Holyoak is underrated as a pitcher. Their only weakness is defense, but that has improved immensely during region play.
STGNEWS PICK: Cedar

Game 2 – Tooele vs. Logan

BUFFALOES
Coach: Marissa Lowry
Overall Record: 11-10
Strength of Schedule: 9.1
Record against tournament teams: 3-4
Current Ranking: 7th
Region Finish: #2 in Region 10

GRIZZLIES
Coach: Kim Laing
Overall Record: 7-14-1
Strength of Schedule: 0.0
Record against tournament teams: 1-6
Current Ranking: 17th
Region Finish: #3 in Region 11

The Lady Buffaloes have a slight edge in overall record and record against tournament teams — but their SOS dwarfs Logan’s. Coming out of Region 10, Tooele should handle the Grizzlies fairly easy.
STGNEWS PICK: Tooele

REGION 10 POD @ GRANTSVILLE

Game 1 – Desert Hills vs. Canyon View

THUNDER
Coach: Kacee McArthur
Overall Record: 23-3-1
Strength of Schedule: 0.4
Record against tournament teams: 6-2
Current Ranking: 4th
Region Finish: 2nd in Region 9

FALCONS
Coach: Tony Krepps
Overall Record: 11-10
Strength of Schedule: 4.0
Record against tournament teams: 3-6
Current Ranking: 11th
Region Finish: 3rd in Region 12

On paper, Desert Hills should dominate. But the Lady Falcons are better than their record indicates. Four of their six losses against tournament teams have come against Cedar and Juab. St. Clair has been pitching well for the Thunder, but where has the offense gone?
STGNEWS PICK: Desert Hills

Game 2 – Grantsville vs. Juan Diego

COWBOYS
Coach: Heidi Taylor
Overall Record: 20-5
Strength of Schedule: 6.5
Record against tournament teams: 7-4
Current Ranking: 3rd
Region Finish: 1st in Region 10

SOARING EAGLE
Coach: Paul Archuleta
Overall Record: 12-8
Strength of Schedule: -2.3
Record against tournament teams: 1-6
Current Ranking: 14th
Region Finish: 4th in Region11

The Soaring Eagle is not your typical No. 4-seed. But Grantsville is also an underrated No. 1-seed. I don’t think this game will be close.
STGNEWS PICK: Grantsville

REGION 11 POD @ BEAR RIVER

Game 1 – Bear River vs. Union

BEARS
Coach: Calvin Bingham
Overall Record: 20-4
Strength of Schedule: 5.2
Record against tournament teams: 9-1
Current Ranking: 2nd
Region Finish: 1st in Region 11

COUGARS
Coach: Evah Taylor
Overall Record: 19-7
Strength of Schedule: 3.9
Record against tournament teams: 3-6
Current Ranking: 6th
Region Finish: 4th in Region 10

Seriously, this does not look like a 1-4 matchup. You win your region title and are rewarded with a first-round matchup with a team that nearly won as many games as you did. You would expect your first-round opponent to be ranked in the mid-teens. Union is just a few spots behind the Bears. I still give Bear River the edge at home.
STGNEWS PICK: Bear River

Game 2 – North Sanpete vs. Snow Canyon

HAWKS
Coach: Sharon Christensen
Overall Record: 12-13
Strength of Schedule: 5.2
Record against tournament teams: 3-5
Current Ranking: 12th
Region Finish: 2nd in Region 12

WARRIORS
Coach: Tracee Heaton
Overall Record: 12-13
Strength of Schedule: 4.6
Record against tournament teams: 1-6
Current Ranking: 13th
Region Finish: 3rd in Region 9

This is the most even matchup of the first round. If the Warriors’ freshman pitcher Payten Jensen is on, the Warriors pull this one out. Otherwise advantage to the Hawks.
STGNEWS PICK: North Sanpete

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