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Get your game on, go play: Utah prep All-Star softball event debuts in Ogden

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | Jun 21, 2023

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

Utah high school softball players compete in the Utah High School All-State Invitational, a softball all-star game, at Ogden's 4th Street Ball Park on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

OGDEN — Many Utah high school sports seasons feature an All-Star game at the end, where various players from schools across the state play an exhibition game, pretty much all for fun.

There are All-Star games for sports such as basketball, baseball and soccer. Baseball, in particular, has had some sort of All-Star presence in Ogden for more than a half-century.

Softball is now on the list.

More than five dozen prep softball players from across the state of Utah, from schools big and small, took part in what was billed as the Utah High School All-State Invitational, the first All-Star softball game of its kind in the state, Wednesday at Ogden’s 4th Street Ball Park.

The roster of players came from those who were voted by coaches to this year’s All-State teams. Players were split into six teams, coached by volunteer high school coaches from around the state, and played a 14-game tournament.

Patrick Carr, Standard-Examiner

Utah high school softball players compete in the Utah High School All-State Invitational, a softball all-star game, at Ogden's 4th Street Ball Park on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

That included a handful of area softball players including Emmaline DeGroot and Stocktyn Stevenson, who both recently graduated from Bonneville High, as well as Aubree Fry (Bear River), Malena Benson (Box Elder) and Lexi Hardman (Morgan).

“A lot of the times I feel like softball isn’t really recognized a ton, so for all the dedication and all the time we put into this, it’s just so great,” said Hardman, who will be a junior next year. “I’m just grateful that we’ve had an opportunity to finally be able to come all together and have an All-Star game.”

Ogden City partnered with a nonprofit called D1-Prospects, which puts on youth softball tournaments and hosts college showcase events, among a few other things, to put on Wednesday’s games.

The sentiment around the All-Star softball games was, “finally.”

“I’ve played in Utah and essentially what I got every year when I was nominated for first or second team was, here’s a certificate and there’s nothing more than that,” D1-Prospects director Shawna Weaver said. “And when we presented this and we started our marketing with this, there were handfuls, if not more, of coaches from other female athletic sports including soccer who said, ‘We’ve been waiting for this for our sport, I’m so glad that you’re pioneering this.'”

Ogden City Recreation manager Edd Bridge said D1-Prospects reached out to Ogden City in the winter about running the softball tournament.

At some point, the topic of an All-Star softball game — or the lack thereof — came up and eventually materialized into a six-team, 14-game tournament, complete with a few sponsors and a banquet at Ogden High School with a motivational speaker.

Bridge said his department staffs and runs the All-Star baseball games at Lindquist Field generally around the first weekend of June ever year, but said it’s an all-hands effort as it happens while the department is running its normal array of programs.

Bridge said as a result, his department doesn’t have the bandwidth to do All-Star softball games three weeks after the baseball games.

“I talked to them about kind of what we do with the boys (baseball all-star games) and how I wish we could do something with the girls and they were like, ‘well, we can. Let us do it,'” Bridge said. “They’ve just taken the lead and run with it.”

D1-Prospects fronted the costs for game registration, T-shirts and the banquet, so that money wasn’t as large of an issue for players and their families to deal with. Weaver said she’s received good feedback from parents of players and hopes the All-Star games become a staple of the summer.

The teams themselves were made of kids from schools as big as those in the 6A classification and as small as those in 2A. One team, for example, had kids from Box Elder, Morgan, Desert Hills (St. George), Canyon View (Cedar City), Beaver, Gunnison Valley, Duchesne, Grantsville, Lehi and Bingham High schools, with the coaches coming from Morgan and Tooele.

“It gives you opportunities to get to know everybody and especially because you’re playing high school ball and competing against a lot of these girls, it’s just good to be able to get to know everybody and just have some fun and go out there and just play your game,” Hardman said.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.


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