Like many youngsters, Wayne's Porter Ellett spent much of his childhood alone in his backyard, learning how to swing a baseball bat.
What made Ellett different, however, was the fact that he learned how to swing a bat — and to do everything else in life — with only one arm.
An accident when Ellett was 4 rendered his right hand, which was his dominant hand, completely unusable. But it hasn't stopped him from becoming a successful athlete and person.
Ellett eventually learned to swing a bat with his left hand — he did it by holding a bat under his chin, tossing a ball into the air, and then transferring the bat to his hand before hitting the falling ball — and years later he has become one of Class 1A's best players.
He recently helped lead Wayne to the 1A state baseball championship, and for his efforts, he has been selected as the 2006 Deseret Morning News Most Valuable Player. Ellett was an excellent defensive first baseman, a quality pitcher and had solid offensive numbers, but it was his intangibles that made him the MVP.
"He brings a lot to the table that doesn't go on a stat sheet," said coach Scott Ellett.
The Badgers featured a balanced side with a number of quality players, but what made Ellett stand out was the fact that he was so good at many of the little things. His work ethic, competitiveness, determination, leadership and the fact that he thrives under pressure are all components of the junior player.
According to coach Ellett, it's difficult to beat Porter to practice. And once he's there, he'll give you everything he's got. During one practice this season, Ellett had blisters pop up all over his hand. Rather than rest himself, however, he simply walked over, found some athletic tape, wrapped it around his left hand and returned to the batting cage.
"That's just kind of the way he is," said coach Ellett, who is Porter's cousin.
That sort of determination, combined with the fact that he isn't afraid to talk to his teammates when necessary, helped him become an important team leader this season.
"It's one thing to be good and it's another thing to make people better," said coach Ellett. "He makes everybody else better."
Porter Ellett also loved the rivalry.
Wayne and Panguitch enjoy one of 1A baseball's best rivalries and the two squads found themselves at the top of the state throughout the season.
They met twice during region play and again in the semifinals of the playoffs, which Wayne won 10-1. Ellett was probably the best player on the field in all three games. When they squared off in the semis, he tossed a complete-game three-hitter to get the win.
One moment, which came fairly early in that contest, still stands out to coach Ellett. With Porter facing Panguitch star Cameron Leach, he completely short-armed his pitch, which bounced about 10 feet in front of the plate before bouncing up and hitting Leach.
As coach Ellett pointed out, many pitchers in that pressure-packed situation could've fallen apart after the incident. Instead, Porter laughed about it and moved on.
"It didn't seem to phase him at all," said coach Ellett.
Of course, you can't help but be inspired when you watch Porter Ellett play baseball and be as good as anyone on his team.
"You don't have anything to complain about when you look at what he's done," said coach Ellett.