Three were seniors, one a junior and another a sophomore, but regardless of their age the five Deseret News softball Players of the Year demonstrated a tremendous amount of poise and leadership as they led their teams to outstanding 2021 seasons.
Not all ended the season with a state championship trophy, but they were voted by the state’s coaches as the best in their respective classifications.
Here’s a look at the 2021 Deseret News softball Players of the Year.
6A Player of the Year
Kaysen Korth, Riverton, Jr.
On just about any other team in the state, Kaysen Korth would’ve been the ace that pitched well over 100 innings and led her team to a deep run in the state tournament.
With Chloe Borges — the Deseret News Ms. Softball recipient — also on the team, Korth shared pitching duties and pitched a bit less than half the games. Her impact in those games was obvious though as she went 11-1 on the mound with a 0.38 ERA and 81 strikeouts.
“Kaysen has this inner drive to constantly get better. She’s constantly working. If a pitch isn’t working, like her riseball or her screwball or her curveball, she will do whatever it takes to go put in the time until it does work. … which is amazing to see,” said Riverton coach Katelyn Elliott.
On days she wasn’t pitching, Korth still made a huge impact on the game as she either bat in the four or five spot, finishing the season with a .500 batting average with nine home runs and 30 RBIs.
Elliott said Korth’s ability to hit all sides of the plate made her a very difficult batter for teams to deal with.
Korth picked up the win in Riverton’s final three games of the state tournament, including a win in Game 1 of the 6A championship series against Bingham as she came on in a relief and settled things down with her team losing. Riverton ended up winning that game by one run, and also won Game 2 by one run as Korth demonstrated her ability to pitch composed despite very tight circumstances.
5A Player of the Year
Avery Sapp, Spanish Fork, So.
With the composure and dominance that Avery Sapp displayed on the mound this season for Spanish Fork, it’s crazy to think she’s just a sophomore.
Sapp pitched every inning of Spanish Fork’s undefeated march through the state tournament, finishing the season with an 18-1 record, a 1.25 ERA and 190 strikeouts.
“Avery is a leader that leads with confidence and passion day in and day out. Every time Avery steps into the circle she emits grit, which motivates the team behind her to play at that gritty level,” said Spanish Fork coach Natalie Jarvis.
She was no slouch in a devastating Spanish Fork lineup either, batting .506 with eight doubles, eight home runs and 34 RBIs. Incredibly, she got a base hit in every game but two this season.
One inning in particular this season stands out to Jarvis about Sapp’s grit and passion.
In the sixth inning against Bountiful in the state tournament, with a berth in the championship series on the line, Sapp hit a batter and then walked another which allowed the go-ahead runner to come to the plate.
No big deal, Sapp struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam, a game she closed out in the seventh to book a spot in the championship series.
“That focus and composure in a high-pressure game is hard to come by in any athlete but that is what makes her the athlete that she is,” said Jarvis.
4A Player of the Year
Attlyn Johnston, Tooele, Sr.
Late in the season, it was clear Tooele senior standout Attlyn Johnston wasn’t playing at 100%, but she still took the field for every inning of every game in hopes of leading Tooele to the state championship — which ultimately ended in a runner-up finish.
The mentality Johnston displayed on the final day of the season epitomized the way she played every day for Tooele over the past four years as one of the best pitchers in the state.
“She continued to fight like she has done since she was a freshman. She is that type of player that will continue to fight every single game, inning, and/or pitch if that means she is playing for her team. She truly is something special and I am grateful for the time I have had with her at Tooele,” said Tooele coach Marissa Lowry.
The Dixie State signee finished the season with a 1.98 ERA and 248 strikeouts, while at the plate she batted .338 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
“Attlyn has proven from her freshman year to her senior year that she has the ability in the circle to do great things. Attlyn is one who inspires and leads those around her. She is never content and is always trying to improve her game and get better. She is always wanting what’s best for her team and never wants to settle,” said Lowry.
3A Player of the Year
August Cowan, Grantsville, Sr.
During her freshman and sophomore years, August Cowan was a starter on Grantsville’s state title teams but by no means the catalyst.
For her senior season this year, Cowan took on a larger role on the field and off the field and became the leader Grantsville needed to capture its fourth straight state championship.
“August Cowan is a coach’s dream. Not only is she physically gifted, especially at softball, she is an extremely hard worker. She is the first one to come and last one to leave all practices and events. She remains focused at all times and betters her teammates by example and quiet words of encouragement,” said Grantsville coach Tony Cloward.
Cloward was the ace on the mound for Grantsville, winning all five of its games in the state tournament, including striking out 17 in a win over Emery.
She finished the season with a 10-4 record, 2.55 ERA and 72 strikeouts. At the plate she batted .580 with seven doubles, six home runs and 32 RBIs.
“She is a fabulous student-athlete who excels under pressure as demonstrated by her leading Grantsville softball to its fourth consecutive state title. She is one-of-a-kind,” said Cloward.
2A Player of the Year
Dykell Jones, Enterprise, Sr.
As a sophomore, Dykell Jones was a starter on Enterprise’s state championship team and had the luxury of just playing freely and looking up to the example set by Enterprise’s five all-state seniors.
Fast forward two years, and the lessons Jones learned throughout that season helped her be the unquestioned leader of Enterprise’s state championship team in 2021 as the team’s lone senior.
“The rest of the team looked up to her and wanted to be around her. Defensively Dykell played a solid middle infield for us this season. Offensively she was one of our top hitters. She led our team through her example of hard work and commitment. She always stayed after practice to work on her game. She was always positive with her teammates regardless of who it was,” said Enterprise coach Katye Jones.
For the season, Dykell Jones batted .481 with a .602 on-base percentage. She recorded 11 doubles, three home runs and 30 RBIs.
During Enterprise’s five state tournament wins, Jones reached base 20 times in 22 at-bats. She recorded nine hits, nine walks and reached on two errors.
Her ability to get on base helped set the table for a lot of big innings this season for Enterprise.