The energy is different in the Mid-Prairie dugout this year.
The Golden Hawks are playing with heart, staying loose, and having fun.
And it’s no accident.
“Most of our team was on that team last year, and we learned so much from that,” Mid-Prairie coach Kyle Mullet said. “Last year, we had a good crew, we had a big senior class, and we were expecting to go to state. These younger guys that are here today have learned from that.”
Davis County had all the fun a season ago. The Mustangs, who had lost nine of their last 11 in the regular season, won four straight in the postseason and upset the fourth-ranked Golden Hawks 7-4 to reach the state tournament with a record of 15-18.
“That's the biggest thing with our mentality,’ Mullet said. They're hungry, they see what we did — laid an egg last year against Davis County. And that's all they’ve talked about since then. I think losing that game last year put the fuel on the fire.”
Mid-Prairie hasn’t trailed since the first inning of the substate semifinal, but the Golden Hawks have faced pressure late in wins over No. 7 West Marshall and No. 3 Cascade on the way to the state semifinals.
“Last year we really tensed up in that substate final game,” said junior Collin Miller who struck out 10 batters on Tuesday. “I could feel it in the dugout, not a lot of chatter. Out here today, everybody was talking, everyone having a great time. We got out there, put those runs up early, and it was great to see.”
The Golden Hawks opened the season at fourth in the IHSBCA coaches rankings, and appeared every week in the poll before dropping out of the final rankings. Mid-Prairie finished the regular season with a record of 15-10 and 9-8 in the RVC.
Golden Hawk junior Cain Brown pitched the final inning on Tuesday, escaping a jam with two runners on and no outs in a one run game to send Mid-Prairie to the semis.
“This year, we’re kind of underdogs,” he said. “We were fourth in (the RVC South) and no one really thought we were going to be anything much. But we played a decent schedule to get here, and we obviously just beat a really good Cascade team.”
Mullet said that the team’s mentality starts with the three captains — seniors Will Cavangah and Tyler Helmuth, and sophomore Karson Grout.
“Those three, they know what we're about… what we need to do, the type of baseball we need to play,” Mullet said. “That's something that we figured out. We know that we need to have fun, that's when we play our best. They understand that and it comes from those three right now.”
Another energetic presence on the Mid-Prairie bench is sophomore Carson Pence, who is usually the first one out of the dugout to greet and hype the Golden Hawk defense every inning.
“We brought him on three weeks ago," Mullet said. "Carson's role is ‘captain fun.’ His whole thing is keeping energy in our dugout and keeping our other guys up. He's got such a great attitude, he's full of life and he does an excellent job. You’ve got to have guys like that.”
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