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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood baseball starts 2021 up and down, but with a familiar face as new head coach

Apr 12, 2021 10:20AM ● By Brian Shaw

Senior catcher Hunter Neumayer is celebrated after catching a bunt and then tagging out the runner for an inning-ending double play. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

The defending 5A state champion Cottonwood Colts go into 2021 looking to repeat. But a year after only playing six games before Covid hit, there’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Chris Shelton. But he’s a familiar face.  

“The transition into the head position won’t see much change. It was really a no brainer for us,” said Greg Southwick, Cottonwood athletic director, who added that former Colts head coach Jason Crawford—now an assistant at SLCC—was emphatic about having Shelton take the position. 

Shelton isn’t new; he was Crawford’s top deputy for years. But the fact that the players have a new voice ruling the precinct is new enough that it in part has led to an up and down start for the Colts, who are trudging through preseason like a rookie horse at the local equestrian park. Up and down, never a straight line, occasionally plowing through obstacles clumsily but sometimes graceful.

Honestly, the outcome has depended on the day for Cottonwood (5-3). Against rival Taylorsville, the Colts were tied for the first four innings and then exploded for six runs in the final two innings to escape with an 11-10 home victory. 

But, when Syracuse took the bus to Murray and played the Colts, Cottonwood suffered a 3-2 loss after the visitors slapped home two runs in the seventh. 

Oh, by the way, those two games were a day apart. Cottonwood’s first road game at Farmington was more of the same. Slow start but a furious finish, resulting in a 5-4 loss—on March 12, two days after the last home game. 

That was three games in four days for a Cottonwood team that up to that point hadn’t played a sanctioned baseball game in 360 days. 

The scheduling gods were kind enough to give the Colts a four-day break before their next game, March 16 against Juan Diego. Back at home, Cottonwood took off like a thoroughbred from the Kentucky Derby for all seven runs in the fifth and sixth innings for a 7-2 win. 

The gods were not as kind a day later at Lehi, however, as the Colts bats got hot early but cooled off late, resulting in a 5-4 loss. 

And then just for fun the scheduling gods thought it would be great if Cottonwood played another game the next day, in what looked like a tournament to the naked eye but wasn’t. The Colts did win that thriller, 6-5, over Mountain Ridge. 

Cottonwood then took a seven-day breather after playing six games in nine days. The Colts then wrapped up preseason play with two victories over Region 2 foes West Jordan (13-3) and Cyprus (12-5). The Colts were slated to take on Brighton and Olympus to start region play.