Prep baseball: Stacked Bingham focuses on short-term goals
South Jordan • Distance muffles a pop song that has drifted over from the loudspeakers in the stadium, where a soccer game is about to start. So the sounds of spring are clear over here on the baseball diamond.
The crack of bats. The smack of a baseball hitting leather.
It is cold and gray on a recent afternoon in early March. The trees behind the batter's eye in center field still are naked, and there are groans and curses over early-season mistakes.
"You ready?" a coach calls out to a kid on the mound with blond hair that flips out from underneath his blue cap.
Bingham High School hurler Brennon Lund nods in affirmation.
Catcher Jake Druce and third baseman Chase Tavonatti are ready, too. A winter removed from a disappointing exit in last year's playoffs, the trio of seniors is ready to forget about the past.
"I feel like we bounced back," Lund said. "We're ready for this season."
Bingham lost its best player from last year, as pitcher Brady Lail was drafted by the New York Yankees. And yet, somehow, the Miners might be in for an even better season this spring.
"Losing Brady is, of course, bad, because he was a dominant pitcher," Tavonatti said. "But we have so many seniors this year, I don't think it will be a problem."
"[Lail] told us this year we need to get it," Lund added.
Bingham, a storied baseball program that has claimed 20 state titles in its history, is ranked as the No. 58 team in the country by MaxPreps.com. One reason: the Miners return 11 lettermen.
"All of our seniors have been playing together since we were about 8," Tavonatti said. "That's why we play together so well. That's where a lot of our success comes from."
Tavonatti, who also will see plenty of time on the mound, added: "We know that we can rely on everyone. We all worked really hard during the offseason, and we know we're capable of a lot of things this year. Our hard work, I think, will pay off."
Bingham won the USA Classic in Tennessee last season but lost a heartbreaker in the Utah Class 5A playoffs. With Lail perfect on the mound through four innings and pitching a one-hitter through five, Taylorsville scored five runs in the sixth and held on to win the semifinal matchup 5-4.
But the Miners aren't ready to talk about avenging that loss just yet. Nor have they shifted their attention to the National High School Invitational later this month in North Carolina.
"Our main focus is the next 200 feet," Druce said, "what's right in front of us. And we don't let any of the other things get in our way."
This season's storylines
• Last year's Class 5A champs, the American Fork Cavemen, return some serious talent in All-State catcher Zac Willis and MVP shortstop Riley Ottesen.
• Spanish Fork has put together championship teams in three of the last four years. But the Dons start a new era this season: one without top talent Kayden Porter.
• Skyline begins its defense of the Class 4A state title without Luke Myers and Lars Lofgren, a pair of All-State seniors last year. The Eagles will face plenty of competition, especially from teams like Maple Mountain and Mountain Crest, which return stocked with contributors from a season ago.
Last season's state champions
Class 5A • American Fork
Class 4A • Skyline
Class 3A • Snow Canyon
Class 2A • Gunnison