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High school baseball: 2017's MVPs led on the field and off of it

Like every MVP, this year's crop put up big numbers while leading their respective teams to state championships. But it's perhaps their collective contributions off the field that provided the biggest benefit, according to their coaches.

This year's four MVPs are Cottonwood's Hayden Rosenkrantz, Timpanogos' Tyler Cornish, Dixie's Tyson Fisher and Gunnison's Drew Hill.

Here's a closer look at all four:


Hayden Rosenkrantz, Cottonwood

Cottonwood's Hayden Rosenkrantz throws a pitch during a division 5A playoff game against American Fork at Kearns High School in Kearns on Monday, May 22, 2017. | Alex Goodlett, Deseret News

Hayden Rosenkrantz normally doesn't say much, preferring to lead by example, but that certainly wasn't the case last fall, when Cottonwood was preparing for its season.

Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford remembers when his star pitcher, who had only entered the program recently after moving from Las Vegas, called out his teammates during team workouts.

"He was calling out guys for not doing what they were supposed to, and he hadn't even been in a program for a full year," Crawford said. "I'll never forget it, though, because it showed he has complete buy-in and I knew right there where he stood. He's a team guy who leads in whatever way he can."

Fortunately for the Colts, Rosenkrantz's play matched up well with his focus and team attitude. He finished 2017 with a 6-2 record pitching, with a 2.05 ERA and 64 strikeouts. He also batted .337 and had 15 RBI.

Like most top players, Rosenkrantz saved his best for last. He went 3-0 in the playoffs, which included winning a duel against Lone Peak's Seth Corry for the 5A state championship.

"That outing really solidified who he is, as a pitcher," Crawford said. "He did all the work and you could tell he wanted that baseball in that final game. He wasn't intimidated, at all, and threw a shutout against a very good Lone Peak team."

Cottonwood took the game over Lone Peak 11-0, in what marked the first shutout of Lone Peak during the 2017 season.

Rosenkrantz didn't just cruise to the form he showed in the Colts' final game but endured some bumps along the way.

"He had an injury midway through the year where he missed a couple of starts and was a bit off right when he came back," Crawford said. "But he kept working and working and really improved with every game and showed his best stuff when it mattered most for us. That just goes to show you what type of player he is."


Tyler Cornish, Timpanogos

Timpanogos' pitcher Tyler Cornish delivers a pitch as they and Spanish Fork play in 4A semifinal baseball action at Utah Valley University in Orem on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

After taking 4A MVP honors in 2016, Timpanogos' Tyler Cornish decided to repeat the feat by taking the same honor in 2017.

He did as much by charting a bit of a different course, however. According to Timberwolves coach Kim Nelson, Cornish finished 2016 on a bit of hot streak, while in 2017, the 6-foot senior showed a new level of consistency.

"This year it really was the whole season for him," Nelson said. "His pitching and hitting have really helped and led our team from day one and has lasted until the final game of the year."

Timpanogos finished this season with its second-straight 4A state championship, after running through in-state play undefeated in one of the most impressive seasons ever by a local prep baseball team.

As for Cornish personally, his numbers bear out just how good he was. Sure, a 10-0 record from the mound, with a 1.99 ERA speak loudly, but probably not as loud as his batting numbers: a .512 batting average, 43 RBI and five home runs.

A lot of Cornish's hits were at the right time, turns out.

"He was absolutely the guy who would come up big in big spots," Nelson said. "He batted third in our lineup for a reason and he just got those big hits, from early in the year, when some of our games were a bit tighter, until late. He's just been that guy throughout."

Like other MVPs, Cornish isn't a player of a lot of words, yet knows how to go about his business and lead by example.

"It's out of character for him to be vocal, but what isn't out of character is how he works," Nelson said. "You want your best players to be your hardest workers and that absolutely is Tyler. No question."


Tyson Fisher, Dixie

Dixie pitcher Tyson Fisher delivers a pitch as they and Snow Canyon compete in 3A state baseball tournament action at Brent Brown Ballpark at UVU on Thursday, May 18, 2017. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

When you're the No. 1 pitcher in the rotation, along with the third batter in the lineup, big things are expected. Fortunately for Dixie, Tyson Fisher provided the necessary numbers, and then some, for a player slotted to such weighty spots in the lineup.

Those numbers included a .457 batting average, 10 home runs and 13 doubles. From the mound he delivered a 7-1 record, 76 strikeouts and a 1.59 ERA.

"He would impact the game almost every time from either the plate or the mound. A lot of times it came from both the mound and the plate," said Dixie coach Danny Ipson. "He's learning how to deal with some of the attention coming his way, but I think he has a bright future and the ability to work through it with a level head and a strong foundation."

If his production didn't work to make the 6-foot-4 junior inconspicuous, his size, frame and presence would. Throughout the playoffs Fisher would speak confidently about his team's ability and was proven right when the Flyers took home the 3A state championship.

"We've always thought he'd be the type of guy he's become this year," Ipson said. "His freshman and sophomore years may have been a bit lacking, considering his potential, but he really put it together this past year. He has a really high ceiling and he's still working to reach it. He's a big, strong kid, with tremendous ability."

Fisher was in top form during Dixie's playoff run, which included a win from the mound in the quarterfinal round and belting two home runs in each of his team's final two games. His final home run proved pivotal for Dixie's furious rally in the bottom of the seventh in taking a 6-4 win over rival Snow Canyon.

"He's been able to step up during some big moments for us and we're confident that's only going to continue and probably get better. Like I said, he has a very bright future," Ipson said.


Drew Hill, Gunnison

Gunnison shortstop Drew Hills tags out a Grand base runner as Gunnison defeats Grand for the 2A state baseball championship at Kearns High's Gates field on Saturday, May 13, 2017. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

As good as Drew Hill played on the field, his real benefit for his team may have been off of it. Some players take leadership roles casually, while others tackle it full-on, which was certainly the case for Hill throughout Gunnison's 2017 championship season.

"He really has been a player-coach for us," said Gunnison coach Jared Anderson. "Some people say that about guys, but for us, that's exactly what he was. He really led this team, along with our other three seniors, and took them to where we won a state championship."

Starting off in the fall Hill would lead team workouts with one goal in mind.

"We made the goal of winning a championship and everything he did was toward that goal. And his teammates really responded to his leadership," Anderson said. "Having a guy like that on our team is unbelievable for any coach. He really made it easy for us, along with our other seniors."

Turns out Hill's numbers were pretty good, too. The Utah Valley signee contributed a .513 batting average and eight home runs. From the mound, he compiled a 9-1 record and a 1.77 ERA.

"He's been starting for us since he was a freshman and he's been all-state all those years," Anderson said. "From day one he's been a big part of our team and he's going to be very hard to replace, that's for sure. He's been great for our program and I'm thrilled he could end it with a state championship, along with the rest of our seniors."


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney