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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood softball finds there is a big mountain to climb in this new region

May 02, 2022 08:55PM ● By Brian Shaw

By Brian Shaw | [email protected]

On March 28, the Cottonwood Colts softball began their foray into their new region against a familiar foe, the Hillcrest Huskies. At the field of their crosstown rivals, the Colts bats swung mightily in the first inning, propelling Cottonwood to a 4-0 lead.

Both teams would play to a standstill until the third inning, when the Colts scored on a RBI double to increase their lead to 5-0. Hillcrest got two runs in the third to narrow the Colts lead to 5-2.

But the Colts bats started cracking shots all over the ballpark in the fourth inning leading to six more runs and a commanding 11-2 lead. In the fifth, Cottonwood poured on four more runs before Hillcrest rallied for eight, narrowing the Colts lead to 15-10. The Colts then hung on down the stretch for a 19-12 victory.

This would be the only win of the season for Cottonwood [1-8]. The results have been predictable for a Colts team that not only lost four key players to graduation—a team that went 11-9 last year and advanced to the second round of the 5A state tournament—but is also playing under a new head coach.

The Colts enter the 2022 season with coach Carson Hauser who comes to the mountains of Utah from the East Coast; the native of Westfield, New York recently starred for Penn State University-Behrend from 2015 to 2019 where she earned all-conference honors for the Lions as an outfielder.

Hauser then worked her way west, accepting a graduate research assistant’s position at the University of Utah where she is currently completing her master’s degree in nutrition and integrative physiology while coaching the Colts.

The new coach and her new team have entered a region that is also new to Cottonwood and loaded with heavyweights. Stansbury, Payson, Uintah and Cedar Valley all went deep into the 5A state tournament last year, while Tooele was the 5A state tournament runner-up.

The Colts are finding that the mountain of schools with proven softball programs in Region 7 is a tough one to climb. With the exception of the Colts’ win over Hillcrest that went the full seven innings, all of Cottonwood’s games in region play have resulted in officials calling the games early.

As the Colts head into the final stretch of the season, only three games remain for them in Region 7 play along with three non-league contests against Skyline, West Jordan and Olympus.

Senior Lala Nagata-Brown leads the Colts with a .467 batting average and has the team’s only triple, while senior Gia Hohaia is the team’s pitching ace, having recorded the Colts lone victory and is also the team leader in RBI with five. Seniors Nevie Hohaia and Lacey Niko have smacked three and two doubles for Cottonwood as well. 

The Colts have five seniors on what is still a young lineup across the team sheet, however. Cottonwood also has some younger talent that is making strides. Junior Rian Reed has hit three doubles, tying her with Hohaia for the team lead and also leads the team in stolen bases, with three. Sophomore James Wilking is another player to watch, having hit two RBI for Cottonwood.

Here is the Cottonwood softball team for 2022 in order of jersey number:

Destinee Cummings, Nevie Hohaia, Olivia S.-Halaeua, Jersey Charles, Gia Hohaia, Mele S-Halaeua, Christina Paluzzi, Rian Reed, Adriana Gonsalves, Lacey Niko, Cynthia Perez Pacheco, James Wilking, Maria Perez, Lala Nagata-Brown, Zoey Wonnacott, Ruth Avendano, Annalyse Staker, Madison Paluzzi, Alanis Gutierrez, Fua Matelav and Leslie Katoa.