Cedar High welcomes new softball and baseball coaches
Cedar High will have a very different look around the diamond this year.
Last year, Eric Fieldsted and Chris Weaver were gearing up for a spring 2020 season at Cedar High with baseball and softball respectively.
After the seasons were canceled, both left their positions in the offseason.
Fieldsted was promoted to vice principal at Cedar High, which meant he had to leave coaching to take up his administrative position. Weaver quit to watch his daughters, Japrix at Snow College and Dream in Southern Utah, play varsity sports.
This brought two new coaches to the Region 9 circuit, including one who brings mental toughness to baseball and another who is happy to be back in the sport of softball.
Continuing the traditions
Shawn Alton needs no introduction to Area 9 baseball. In fact, he already had a high opinion of Southern Utah baseball.
“Top to bottom, in any sport, the toughest region in the state, regardless of classification,” Alton said. “Coming to a region and being able to coach an interior region of this caliber is absolutely exciting.”
Alton also has his work cut out for him.
Region 9 has fielded the UHSAA State Champion in their respective rankings for five consecutive years and six of the past seven years. His plan to get his team to compete is to make them mentally strong.
“If they can keep a mental toughness about them, they’ll compete day in and day out,” Alton said. “They have to figure it out and learn how to get rid of maybe a bad inning or a bad batting, and go back and focus on their job.”
A graduate of Emery High School in 1993, Alton coached Emery for the 2017 season, leading the Spartans to an 18-9 record and into the 2017 2A Quarter-Finals loser pool before losing to Kanab.
He’s had success as a first-year coach before, and what will help him this year is how a few of the coaching staff from last year are staying on Alton’s staff.
That continuity will help, as the Reds won’t be much different in 2021.
“We’re not going to change anything,” Alton said. “We have the same coaching staff. And so, what to expect, it’s a little more traditional baseball.”
But it goes beyond the game. Alton said his team will be involved in the community, doing service projects around Cedar City to give back to the community and gain their support.
In the diamond, Alton said he wanted to focus on situational striking, but that plays into mental toughness. When the Reds enter a specific moment in a match, Alton wants his team to be ready.
The new coach feels his team will be, and it’s thanks to the players. Alton said the players understood everything he said without asking questions or reacting.
This is essential in a region where competition will be fierce throughout the season.
“We want to carry on that tradition and continue the tradition of baseball,” Alton said. These kids have adapted really well, and I think they’ve done a phenomenal job. The community and the parents, we’re all excited.”
“Like riding a bike”
While Alton is well versed in Region 9 and Utah high school baseball, Kathy Stahl is still figuring it all out.
Specifically, what she has on her Cedar Reds team. Plus, what the return to competitive softball will look like.
Stahl hasn’t played fast softball since 1999, when she entered the police academy. But she is not afraid of being left out of the game.
“It’s like riding a bike when you’ve played so competitively all your life,” Stahl said. “It comes back to you very quickly.”
Riding a bike might be too light an analogy. Stahl wasn’t just into softball, she was a former star at the University of Oregon. She was a four-time All-Pac-10 selection at shortstop during her career with the Ducks and was inducted into the Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.
When she finished her career at Oregon, she was the Ducks’ all-time leader in doubles (39), triples (16), home runs (31), runs scored (149), walks (86) and batting average (.381). ).
But the heart of the game itself, from her point of view, hasn’t changed in the 20 years since she left the game for her career.
“From the basics, the mechanics, just the competitive aspect, it’s the same,” Stahl said. “I went back to basics with my girls.”
Stahl comes to Cedar City from California after her career as a police officer. She competed in softball tournaments in southern Utah, so she wasn’t completely taken away from the game.
However, it ignited his desire to coach.
Stahl knew Weaver from those past softball tournaments, and Weaver was the one who told Stahl she should take over the Reds’ softball program. This allows Stahl to give players back the same confidence she received as a player during her Hall of Fame career.
“I love being able to give back to student-athletes what was given back to me in my time,” Stahl said. “I just think I have a lot of knowledge and I have a lot to offer athletes as student-athletes.”
As for the team she has, Stahl is still learning about her team. The Reds were supposed to enter the field last week, but snow in St. George and Cedar City canceled those games.
Now the itch to train has reached fever pitch.
“I just want to get out there,” Stahl said, “because I think my girls are doing pretty well.”
Chris Kwiecinski covers Area 9, Dixie State and Southern Utah athletics for The Spectrum. Follow him on Twitter @OchoK_, and contact him at [email protected], or (435) 414-3261.