Coach of the Year: Box Elder’s Taleas Marble
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GARLAND — Bear River High School graduation was by no means a license for Kapri Toone to relax, even if a majority of college-bound seniors do just that once they toss the mortarboard into the air.
Toone is headed to Utah State this fall to play softball. The Aggies’ coaching staff wants her to still play some competitive softball this summer to stay loose.
Along with that, Toone is giving pitching lessons to little girls in the area. There might not be a better recently graduated high-schooler to learn from than Toone, this year’s Standard-Examiner All-Area Softball Most Valuable Player.
Toone’s statistics were gaudy in leading the Bears to the 4A state championship and the Region 12 championship.
Her pitching record was 22-3 in 152 2/3 innings with a 2.75 ERA, 145 strikeouts against 52 walks and a .219 opposing batting average.
And then as a designated hitter, she hit .474 with 32 RBIs, 13 doubles, three home runs and, a cool .987 fielding percentage. She shouldered the overwhelming majority of the team’s innings, led the team in batting average and thrived under pressure.
“I like being in the rough situations where everyone’s counting on you, I like the feeling of being able to work out of it. It’s so satisfying,” Toone said.
Toone played a big role in Bear River winning the 4A state championship against Spanish Fork in May, which head coach Calvin Bingham called the toughest team the Bears have ever played in a state title game.
But she played just as big a role in the Bears getting there to begin with and, of course, statistics don’t tell the entire story.
“I have to take a deep breath and not get too ahead of myself when I’m out there,” Toone said. “I would make little mistakes and in the end, they can cost you, so I had to try and keep things under control.”
There was a stretch where Toone pitched three complete games in three straight games: two region games with Herriman, the eventual 6A state champion, sandwiched in between. The Bears won all three.
Work was at the core of Toone’s success this season. A lot of it.
“Conditioning is a big part. I would throw, on some days, two times a day, I would practice on the weekends to get ready for next week,” Toone said.
Utah State recruited her to pitch, but Toone said coaches told her she can hit in the lineup if she’s one of the 10 best hitters on the team, which she wants to do.
Maybe it’s not a surprise Toone played softball and ended up being good at the sport.
Toone and her father, who tends to the BRHS softball field, would go to the field on Sundays and practice. He would pitch to her for some batting practice and would catch for her while she pitched.
A day off? Nonsense.
“I haven’t really had a vacation that didn’t have softball in it, honestly. When we go to California, it’s a week of softball and we’d go to the beach after our games got done,” Toone said.
There are no postseason polls which rank teams once the state championship dust has settled, but Bear River has a legitimate claim as being the best team in the entire state regardless of classification.
The Bears beat a host of higher-classification teams including Herriman (the 6A state champions), Box Elder (the 5A state champions), Bingham, Taylorsville, Copper Hills, Fremont and Maple Mountain.
But their most important one was the last one, a Spanish Fork team in the state title game on May 19, the same Dons team that many pegged as the champions before the season’s first pitch.
The same Dons team that blasted Bear River 14-7 in the Bears’ third game of the year.
Bear River was nervous for that game, Toone said, and the Bears were even more nervous for the state title game. The nerves only calmed after the game when they celebrated with the championship trophy.
“We had that fire under us to come back and beat them,” Toone said
Bear River had a feeling it would be good this year with a talented group including Mercedes Call, Taylor Fox, Ashley Hess, Maddi Morris and Josie Larkin returning from a good year in 2017.
The Bears’ goals were to win the region championship and the state championship.
“There’s really no better way to go out.”