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South Salt Lake Journal

With new head coaches, Cottonwood baseball, boys volleyball got underway

Apr 12, 2024 01:28PM ● By Brian Shaw

Several seasons after Jason Crawford left for Salt Lake Community College’s coaching staff and handed the Cottonwood head baseball coaching position to Chris Shelton, it was Shelton who left for SLCC as well this past summer. 

So, Cottonwood High administration conducted a statewide coaching search for its next candidate, said Greg Southwick, Cottonwood’s athletic director. 

“We think we’ve hit this one [hire] out of the park,” said Southwick, borrowing a baseball adage. 

They settled on Gavin Duckworth, who prepped at Brighton and played at Southern Utah University, for the job. 

According to Southwick, Duckworth had a big job ahead of him to get Cottonwood’s legendary baseball field up to speed and direct the Colts back to where the program used to be under Crawford, who had guided the Colts to several state titles. 

But, Duckworth’s first duty was to get kids interested in playing some fall baseball which was a hit and brought out a lot of kids who hadn’t been as interested in playing baseball at Cottonwood. 

His second aim was to start doing even more fundraising than before to bring the program’s facilities up to the industry standard. 

Third was to engage in an offseason training program and that was a success as well according to Southwick who said he’s already pleased with the progress he’s seen going into the season. 

“He had a big job ahead of him to get our facilities and all the other details back up to where it should be,” Southwick said. 

So far it’s been good for Cottonwood [4-2, 1-1] on the field as well; the Colts stand at 4-2 overall as the preseason rolls on. 

Although nobody has hit a home run for the Colts, junior Ladanian Gutierrez has hit seven RBI to lead Cottonwood, while senior Robbie Jensen has three. The 6-foot-3 inch Jensen is also one of Cottonwood’s aces on the mound; he carries a 1-0 record and has 15 strikeouts thus far. 

Junior Isaiah Cosby also has hit three RBI and has the Colts only triple of the season. To lack heavy hitters is nothing new at Cottonwood; the Colts have always won their games by manufacturing runs—sacrifice flys, sac bunts and the like. 

Like Jensen, senior Austin Carver does double duty for the Colts; in the field he’s a shortstop and is Cottonwood’s No. 2 pitcher, with a 1-0 record and 13 strikeouts under his belt. 

Junior Brighton Young has also hit a RBI for Cottonwood and has a 1-0 record as a pitcher, with four strikeouts to his credit. 

Juniors Angel Mavarez-Gonzalez and Dom Fuchuck each have knocked in a run for Cottonwood as well. 

Cottonwood launches boys volleyball team for the first time 

According to Southwick, he had to talk Jean Sutterfield into being the first boys volleyball head coach. 

“It didn’t happen right away,” joked Southwick. 

But, Sutterfield accepted eventually. And it looks like Southwick’s gut told him right. 

In the first year that the Utah High School Activities Athletics Association [UHSAA] has actually sanctioned boys volleyball as a high school sport, the Colts boys volleyball team is off to a hot start. 

Cottonwood [4-1, 4-0 Region 10] opened the season absorbing a rather rough welcome to boys volleyball, losing in straight sets at Cedar Valley, 15-25, 9-25 and 17-25 on March 6.  

Since that point, however, the Colts have been on a tear, galloping over rivals Hillcrest three sets to one in a victory, over Stansbury in three straight sets, over Park City in a 3-1 romp and another 3-1 win at Tooele. 

Although it’s still early in the season, and Cottonwood still has 10 more games to play before the state tournament, a 4-1 record is a good early indicator. λ