Hillcrest girls golf, boys soccer, baseball seasons underwayMar 29, 2022 09:50PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest baseball team, seen here playing against Juan Diego Catholic High School, started with two wins and a loss in the preseason. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
By mid-March, Hillcrest High students were shooting for the green, putting the ball in the woodwork, and swinging the lumber as spring sports seasons got underway.
Senior Zoe Welch picked up a set of clubs two years ago and she was excited and nervous for the Huskies’ first tournament of the season.
“I’m playing No. 2 in the varsity line-up,” said Welch, the co-captain along with junior Ava Perkins, who played No. 1. “I think the highest I ever played last year was four. It gets more competitive the higher you are and here we’re in a new region, I don’t know how most of the girls are.”
Neither did her coach, Dave Richardson.
“This region is where a bunch of other teams can play at their home courses for free, so I honestly don’t know where we’re going to fall,” he said. “These schools are an hour and up to three hours away so they’re not close so I can’t go scout the other teams. But we have five new players on the team, so that brings us up to 12 and that’s exciting. I have some new players who have played before and some who are wanting to play in college and are really working hard at it this year. I think Ava will go to state, even if the team doesn’t, she likely will individually.”
Richardson said the top teams from each region automatically advance to state, which is May 9-10, along with the top 10 individuals outside the top teams.
On that first tournament, Welch shot her best score for 18 holes. The next day’s tournament, she said the team didn’t shoot well.
“Golf is so unpredictable; one day you could shoot great and the next day you just like, suck so bad,” she said. “Some days, you can just keep hitting bad shots, so I have to tell everyone just to clear it out of their heads. The weather, too, is unpredictable. One day it’s snowing, the next, it’s sunny and then the next, it’s raining.”
Still, Welch appreciates playing golf as it’s a sport she can play and continue to improve lifelong.
“I like it because it’s not solely based on how strong you are; it’s also based on technique and it’s a mental game. I think that’s higher than in sports where you have to do high intensity exercise,” she said. “I also like it because you’re not relying on other people. You play against yourself and there’s always something you can tweak and change to get better.”
Junior defender Connor Walton was excited at the start of the season.
“Obviously, the goal is to win state,” he said. “As a team, we set some goals and we’re really focusing on hitting them.”
Amongst the goals is to win region and have home field advantage in the state playoffs.
Although the Huskies scored a goal from Abdul Alzouabi, Hillcrest lost their season opener to Olympus, 2-1.
“I think it was a really good check for our whole team to see where we are and evaluate ourselves on what we need to work on. I think every game this season can be a challenge, but by playing tough games and learning how to become better, it is going to help,” Walton said.
The team rebounded to beat Brighton 3-2, with two goals from Solomon Sebresos and one from Jose Cortez. That was followed by a 2-1 win over Herriman, with scores from Cortez and Nate Collard.
While coach Brett Davis expects Stansbury to be the top region challenger, Walton is looking forward to the final game of the regular season against Wasatch High on May 10.
“They knocked us out of the playoffs last year and then they ended up winning state, but we definitely are hoping to take it back from them. I think that’s definitely going to be a tough game,” he said.
Davis scheduled that game purposely since “Wasatch is definitely high caliber, a solid program which will definitely prepare us for the playoffs.”
Walton, who began playing Sandy City recreational soccer at age 7, then moved into competitive clubs before playing high school, said that the team is close.
“I love the sport and it’s fun, but the team environment is really my favorite aspect,” he said. “Especially in high school, we’re a tight group and these guys have become some of my best friends. We play together on the field during the season, hang out together and play USA (Utah Youth Soccer Association) in the offseason. The highlight is always the feeling when we win a game, we go back to the locker room, and everyone is celebrating. It’s the best feeling, knowing everyone played hard and gave it our all.”
Senior pitcher Braden Rosenhan is looking forward to his final baseball season with the Huskies.
“We have eight or nine of us in the senior class, with more experience and a lot more strength than some other guys,” he said. “We’ve been practicing more and lifting, and we don’t have the restrictions in place as we have the past couple seasons with COVID.”
While Rosenhan has been practicing baseball since fall, basically since he put up his clubs as a member of the Huskies golf team, he’s been working out six days per week.
“Our senior leadership is setting the example for younger players with our work ethic and with skills,” he said about the 23-member team. “We’re working with them on how they can best improve their skills on the field.”
Rosenhan pitched three innings with two strike-outs and two hits off him in the Huskies’ first game, a 13-5 win over Provo High. The Huskies then fell to Juan Diego Catholic High, 17-7, before bouncing back to beat Granger 10-0.
“Juan Diego is one of the better teams in the state so we need to just concentrate on getting better and not making some basic errors,” Rosenhan said. “We had a lot of motivation going into the Granger game to prove we are better than that last game.”
Region play for the Huskies was slated to begin March 29 against Cedar Valley.
“The top couple teams from region go to state, so we got to be ready to play,” he said. “I like playing ball alongside my brothers. I know some sports, it’s more of a solo competition. To me, I look at my teammates sitting next to me and know they’re going to back me up. We’re a family.”