For a team that began the season with so much potential, the Bonneville baseball team looked out of sorts and in need of some help.
That was the assessment just five weeks ago following a three-game series sweep at the hands of conference rival Idaho Falls.
Coach Ryan Alexander described the series as a reality check and possible turning point in the season.
“We took that really hard,” senior Bruer Webster said. “We felt we were a better team.”
From the depths of that series a better Bees team has emerged. Bonneville enters today’s 4A state tournament having won nine of 10 games since that fateful series and looks to be playing its best ball of the long season. Pitching, defense, and probably most important to the Bees, their hitting, seems to be in sync at the most opportune time.
Bonneville plays Kuna at 10 a.m. today in the opening round of the 4A state tournament at Vallivue High in Caldwell.
“We’re getting back to our style of baseball,” Webster added. “We’re playing loose, free, being aggressive, and letting our pitching do what it does and playing good defense.”
During the 10-game stretch, the Bees (21-6) have surrendered just two or fewer runs in eight of those games. They’ve also scored in double figures in seven of those games. It’s a combination that’s proven hard to beat down the stretch.
Players credited the team’s experience for the quick turnaround following the Idaho Falls series. Some teams could have imploded, but the Bees regrouped behind a solid core of upperclassmen, most of which played on last year’s team that advanced to the 5A state championship game.
The experience of that roller coaster ride, highlighted by the thrill of playing for a state title, and the disappointment of losing that game, has been invaluable.
Last year there may have been nerves heading into the state tournament. That’s not an issue this time around.
“This year we have a lot of experience between all of our guys,” junior Tavyn Lords said. “It’s more excitement than nerves.”
“We know we have to play three good games,” senior pitcher and Utah-signee Randon Hostert said about learning from last season. He added the current team is getting hot at the right time and appears ready to handle the pressure.
Bonneville already proved its current hot streak is no fluke, beating Idaho Falls 13-2 in last week’s District 6 championship game. Hostert pitched a gem, and all those missed opportunities that dogged the team in the earlier series turned into timely hits and plenty of runs.
“Right now our offense has been hot and that’s a big part of our game,” pitcher Caden Christensen said. “If we put runs on the board, it’s hard to beat us with our pitching.”
Webster said last year’s team may have been too tight during the state tournament and it showed at the end.
“We’re playing loose, and that experience will help us,” he said. “We’re confident.”