PCHS softball hopes to change team’s narrative in 2017 | ParkRecord.com

PCHS softball hopes to change team’s narrative in 2017

Miners have won just six games in the last three seasons

Park City High Schools Denise Zarate winds up for a pitch during a game last season. Zarate will be one of the teams go-to pitchers this year.

Shannon Gebbia knew she was diving into rebuiliding a program when she took on the role of head coach for the Park City High School's softball team in 2014. The Miners had not mustered up a win in her first two seasons at the helm.

Last year, though, the team had a breakthrough by winning six games, including the final game of the season, a 14-3 win over Skyline. As Park City heads into the 2017, Gebbia and company are hoping to keep the momentum going from last year.

"We've got several returners that have been with me [for a while]," Gebbia said. "They know what to expect and they're just improving each year."

The season started on a much more positive note than years past. The Miners won their first game of the season with a 19-12 win over Ogden. Park City even led 14-0 in the second inning.

Gebbia hopes the offensive barrage and tactical play that helped the team garner its season-opening win — the first victory in March in years — will continue throughout the season.

"We're really hoping to be more invested on the offensive side," Gebbia said. "We face some really strong pitchers in our region with Stansbury and Tooele. Those girls are fantastic pitchers. … We're looking to utilize small ball. The girls have been working really hard to execute bunts and do what I ask them to move runners on once we get them. That's what I think we did really well."

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Though the Miners, competing out of Region 10, started the season with a win, they know there's a long road ahead. Six wins in three seasons, including zero in region play, isn't exactly the resume of a powerhouse, so Park City isn't going to pretend like it is one.

When it comes to UHSAA 3A softball, Region 10 reigns king. Tooele is one state championship shy of the Utah record for any division with nine, while Stansbury has found more recent success by winning the 3A title for three-straight seasons from 2013-2015. The other region teams, Grantsville and Union, are also solid squads, so the Miners have their work cut out for them.

Even so, it's about winning the smaller battles, such as playing a full game versus one cut short due to the runs-ahead rules.

"We play in one of the toughest regions [in the state]," Gebbia said. "Each year, we've improved. That's what the girls look for."

The Miners feel as though this could be the year they steal a region victory, despite it remaining tough. The team, only graduating two seniors from last year's squad, returns a wealth of experience that Gebbia believes will be helpful.

On the mound, Park City has Ashley Farquharson and Denise Zarate. Farquharson doubles as a U.S. Junior luger and she won't be with the team until March 25. When she does return, she and Zarate create a formidable duo on the rubber.

"[Ashley's] the complete counterpart to Denise as a pitcher," Gebbia said. "Where Denise is more finesse and change of speed, Ashley provides a little bit more power. They can really [shut down] an offense when they're on."

Couple the strong pitching with experienced returnees like Amanda Riely and Salina Ochoa, and it's no wonder the Miners are feeling confident heading into 2017.

As the cellar-dwellers of Region 10 for the last few seasons, the Miners hope to change their narrative this season. Though winning the region or even being among the top teams might be a stretch, one of the team's concrete goals is simple: just get a region.

"That's one of our goals," Gebbia said. "We think that we have a very good chance. We play eight region games. We think we have a chance at being more competitive this year and surprise somebody to pull out a region win this year."

Park City will head down to St. George to play in the March Warm-Up Elite Tournament over the weekend. The Miners played three games on Friday (this issue was already sent to print before they all concluded). They will also play two more on Saturday.