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High school softball: 4 of 5 defending state champs open season No. 1 in 2023 preseason coaches rankings

Even though it may not look like spring is just around the corner, the start of the high school softball season is only a week away.

The official start date of the 2023 high school softball season is Monday, March 6, and the teams beginning the season ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches rankings all know their way around the diamond.

The teams voted No. 1 in 6A, 5A, 4A and 2A are all defending state champs, while the preseason No. 1 in 3A was a four-time state champ prior to coming up short a year ago.

This year’s preseason No. 1s are Riverton (6A), Spanish Fork (5A), Ridgeline (4A), Grantsville (3A) and Duchesne (2A).

In 6A, during the past two years, Riverton has ridden a pair of aces to a 52-2 record and two state titles. Those aces are both now pitching in the college ranks, as the face of the program now changes in 2023.

There are plenty of elite returning players on the roster still, as Riverton may end up being just as dominant this season.

“Riverton lost some key players last year but we are loaded right back up with great talent, and ready for another great season,” said Riverton coach Katelyn Elliott Jenson.

Headlining that returning group is senior shortstop and Ute commit Jolie Mayfield.

Bingham and Skyridge figure to be Riverton’s biggest challengers this season as both return their top all-staters from a year ago.

In 5A, two-time state champion Spanish Fork received nearly every first-place vote from the coaches, as it was the overwhelming choice as preseason No. 1.

Of the Dons’ five first- or second-team all-staters from a year ago, four are returning, led by ace and power hitter Avery Sapp and fellow slugger Peyton Hall. Between the two of them they return 31 home runs and 98 RBIs.

Bountiful returns its ace as well, Eva Stoddard, and will be one of the top teams in 5A this season.

In 4A, defending state champs Ridgeline returns six key contributors, including first-team all-staters Ellie Pond and Anne Wallace, who are both still underclassmen.

“2023 will be a new year with some remaining stabilizing pieces but we will also be looking for new people that have worked hard and waited their turn to contribute and step up in major ways,” said Ridgeline coach Mike Anderson. “We have confidence in this new group but know that what happens when the pressure is on will be the proof in the pudding.

“This group has the feel of a family and I am sure that they will have each others’ backs. We know that teams will bring their best. Ultimately, as a team, we know we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together.”

Ridgeline lost to Bear River twice during region play last year, but beat the Bears in the two playoff games to win the 4A title. Bear River returns ace Kate Dahle and is just as capable of another dominant regular season like a year ago.

In 3A, Manti coach Susan Hatch retired as a state champ after leading the surprise Templars to the state title. Most of last year’s top players graduated as Manti takes a backseat in the preseason rankings this season to No. 1 Grantsville and No. 2 Carbon.

Grantsville returns seven key contributors, including three first-team all-staters as the program looks to get back on top after its four-year run came to a surprising end last year.

“Grantsville returns a lot of talented, experienced players from last years team. In fact seven returning starters for this upcoming season. This team is very hungry after a disappointing ending to last year. The focus and dedication has been outstanding. With great senior leadership this team could go far,” said Grantsville coach Tony Cloward.

In 2A, fresh off winning its first state title in school history, Duchesne edged Enterprise in this year’s preseason rankings for the top spot.

The Eagles return four players who were voted first- or second-team all-state a year ago, led by senior Kelsey Grant.

“We are looking forward to another great season and working toward another championship. We have a core group of girls coming back and are adding some solid new young girls. It should be another great season and we are looking forward to competing and working hard,” said Duchesne coach Kyle Grant.

Deseret News preseason rankings

Class 6A

Team (2022 record)

Riverton (28-1)Bingham (25-6)Skyridge (24-7)West (23-5)Fremont (21-5)

Class 5A

Team (2022 record)

Spanish Fork (28-4)Springville (21-11)Bountiful (20-7)Lehi (24-13)Uintah (22-9)

Class 4A

Team (2022 record)

Ridgeline (26-5)Bear River (28-5)Snow Canyon (23-9)Crimson Cliffs (22-5)Desert Hills (14-20)

Class 3A

Team (2022 record)

Grantsville (18-9)Carbon (22-7)Manti (23-9)Canyon View (16-14)Morgan (20-10)

Class 2A

Team (2022 record)

Duchesne (28-7)Enterprise (23-10)Beaver (19-14)Parowan (13-12)Gunnison Valley (20-13)

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