Prep baseball: Last season's heartbreak fuels Stansfield
Taylorsville outfielder Larenz Stansfield remembers the exact day as if it were an app on his iPhone created just to remind him.
May 25, 2012.
The Warriors were six outs away from winning a Class 5A state title.
Now that Stansfield is a senior and has had nearly a year to remember what it was like to watch American Fork celebrate the 5A title, he can see a lesson in the loss.
"We were six outs away on May 25. It's so hard to explain just how big it was to be six outs away from a state championship," Stansfield said. "Everyone doubted us because of the region we played in. After we were humiliated by Alta, we came back to beat Bingham, and that win gave us the confidence that we took into the championship game."
Taylorsville won the Region 2 title, but since the Warriors played in what was perceived to be a weak region, their skeptics kept coming to the plate as if they were batting around.
When Alta beat Taylorsville (11-0) in the second round of the tournament, it looked like the end of the road. But that's when the Warriors realized whatever didn't kill them would make them stronger. They looked more like a team that needed to be fitted for a ring and sounded more like a Stuart Smalley motto.
I'm smart enough, doggone it, I'm good enough and people like me.
Back they came. After exorcising the Bingham demon that had been haunting the program, they beat Jordan, Lone Peak and Alta to get to the championship game.
They beat American Fork 6-2 to force a second game and had the lead in the sixth inning before watching the Cavemen rally for a 5-4 win.
Heartbreak endured, lesson learned.
Taylorsville lost six of nine starters off that team, but it still returned two other starters, including Stansfield and one other key element tradition.
A program that has won 10 state titles figures only to be better after last year's close call.
"We had a great run, and it was a great experience," Stansfield said. "We lost a lot of good players from last year, but we have some very good players coming back. And we have confidence that if we work hard, we can get back to that point."
If Taylorsville does get back to the title game this year, its likely Stansfield will be a key to that run.
"He will probably the best hitter on our team," Taylorsville coach Jake Brown said. "He's going to be very important to our team and a guy we will count on for leadership. He seems to get better as the competition gets better. Last year in the state tournament, there were times when he carried us for several games."
Stansfield hit .402 with seven doubles and 21 RBI last season. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior will return to his place in the outfield and also should get some work on the mound.
With experience under his belt, he now has a new day to look forward to May 24, 2013. It's the day the 5A championship will be played.