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The City Journals

The Cougars have returned home this season with a cause

May 02, 2022 09:07PM ● By Greg James

By Greg James | [email protected]

The Kearns baseball team has had to field some adversity, yet team leaders have kept them focused on having a good season.

“I am very happy with the way we have played this season,” Cougars head baseball coach Dave Ballard said. “We have had tough preseason games, several one-run games. We have come out well so far.”

The Cougars traveled to St. George to start the season where they won three of five games on the trip including a 7-3 victory over Highland.

“It was a tough preseason. We lost a couple of close ones. The 4-3 loss to Corner Canyon really helped us get focused,” Ballard said.

In the first two regular-season series the Cougars went 5-2 with series wins over Cyprus and Granger, before sweeping West. They play in the UHSAA Region 2 against Cyprus, Granger, Hunter, Roy, Taylorsville, and West high schools.

“We don’t play in the strongest region in the state, but as a 6A school the games against our rivals challenge us to play our kind of baseball,” he said.

The Cougars have relied on senior leadership this season.

The team's leading hitter is Issac Luckhart. He is batting .429 which includes 10 hits and 12 RBIs.

“He (Luckhart) is a great leader and a multi-sport athlete. He was a great player on our football team this fall. He leads us in hitting and is one our top pitchers too,” Ballard said. “These kids have built our team culture. The older kids have really stood up and taught the younger kids what we want. That really pays off for a coach.”

The team bounced back after several injuries early on this year. Senior CJ Mulford jammed his thumb and had to have surgery. Aviry Kelly separated his shoulder, but both players only missed short periods of time.

“Kids have had to step up and fill roles,” Ballard said. “We have had adversity all season.”

Adversity is not new to this team. In the fall of 2020, the grass on the baseball field was completely taken out. It had developed a fungus that needed to be removed. The new seed did not take hold in time for them to play on it last season. In 2021 the Cougars played all of their games on the road.

The team does not let that change their perspective. They have planned several service projects throughout the year. Recently they took doughnuts to the special education class and played kickball with them.

“The kids jumped right in, almost like they were at home. The special ed teacher was amazed. She told me that ‘most people are not sure how to act around her class.’ This group is good,” Ballard said. “I am competitive but I don’t care if we win another game.”

The state tournament is scheduled to begin on May 14. Kearns was ranked 14th in the state tournament RPI seeding. The championship game will be held May 27 at Utah Valley University. Last season the Cougars lost their first-round series to Weber High School 2-1.