BRAXTON IPSON, Dixie, baseball: The play of this junior pitcher/infielder is a big reason the Flyers head into this week's 3A state tournament with high expectations despite a fourth-place finish in the difficult Region 9.

Ipson finished the regular season with a .423 batting average and a .608 on-base percentage. He's belted three home runs and five doubles, in addition to a 4-2 record on the mound.

What makes Ipson's accomplishments more impressive is he's played with lateral meniscus tear in his right knee that he suffered in the 3A football championship game last fall.

Ipson was a Deseret News second team all-stater last baseball season.

NATALIE NICHOLS, South Summit, softball: Just about everything the sophomore does contributes to South Summit's success on the field.

"She leads off for my team, and if she gets the ball down on the ground, very few teams can throw her out," said coach Cody Bowen. "She's batting about .640."

But Nichols' talents aren't confined to offense. She pitches for the Wildcats and owns a 15-1 record. She works just as hard off the field maintaining a 4.0 GPA, as well as contributing to the volleyball and basketball teams.

"I'm biased because I think softball is by far her best sport," said Bowen. "She's just a great athlete. She's got all of the tools to succeed. … It's hard to say what her best attribute is. She's fast, she's heady, she has a great temperament, she never gets rattled, she's quick, she's gritty, she's hard working, she's just a nice athlete to have around. She's incredible."