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Sandy • In a way, Colton Shaver had become accustomed to anonymity.
As a sophomore last season, the promising young catcher was a rising star on the Jordan High baseball team. But when the Beetdiggers batted, Shaver was well protected by a trio of college-bound prospects.
And in the field, Shaver was squatting behind the plate, his face hidden by a mask.
This year, however, there's no doubt all eyes are on the strapping junior.
Shaver has taken on an increased role, and he has excelled. Shaver has become the Beetdiggers' top bat. And for Jordan to claim a region title, and a No. 1 seed heading into this week's state baseball tournament, coach Ron Anderson called upon Shaver to pitch in his team's biggest games.
"You get that feeling of everyone is watching you," Shaver said. "I like it. I just want to get up there and throw."
Anderson credits Shaver, who already has an offer to play at Washington State, with becoming a more disciplined hitter and better student of the game.
"Last year he was a young kid who swung at everything to see how far he could hit," Anderson said.
But with Brennon Anderson now at BYU, Mark Krueger at Utah Valley and Alex Fife at Western Nevada, Shaver has had to rein himself in. He spent his offseason with Anderson hitting off-speed and breaking balls.
The work has paid off for Shaver, who leads his team in homers and extra-base hits.
Shaver said he felt like he "coasted" at the end of last season. This year, however, he has refocused and improved his work ethic, modeling himself after last year's trio of seniors.
"I saw them work hard and bust their butts every day," he said. "I just wanted to be like them."
He stays later after practice, asks more questions, has his father throw him extra balls in the batting cage in the family's backyard.
"He's a pure hitter," Anderson said. "He's big and strong and he hits mistakes a long way. But he can hit all fields, and he's willing to give himself up to drive in a run. He's just a complete player."
But Shaver's biggest change has come in the field. As a sophomore, he handled some relief duty for the Beetdiggers, throwing an inning or two in a pinch. But this season Anderson knew he would need his catcher on the other side of the plate more often.
Jordan started the season slow and struggled some in region play. The Beetdiggers had lost their first two games of the series to rival Alta and needed a win to get back in the region race.
Anderson looked to Shaver to get the team back on track.
"We had a couple must-win games coming down the stretch," the coach said. "We'd roll him out there and he got the W."
Shaver's win over the Hawks was the start of a seven-game winning streak to close out the regular season and help Jordan capture the Region 3 title.
"It's right at the end of the season, right where we wanted it," Shaver said of the current streak. "I'm just excited to see how far our team goes. We've come together really well and we're playing really hot right now. I'm excited to make some noise in the tournament."
Class 5A Baseball (at home sites)
American Fork at Alta, 4 p.m.
Kearns at Syracuse, 4 p.m.
Fremont at Taylorsville, 4 p.m.
Cottonwood at Bingham, 4 p.m.
Davis at West, 4 p.m.
Copper Hills at Riverton, 4 p.m.
Pleasant Grove at Jordan, 4 p.m.
Viewmont at Layton, 4 p.m.
Class 4A Baseball (at home sites)
Bountiful at Westlake, 4 p.m.
Roy at Salem Hills, 4 p.m.
Mountain View at Logan, 4 p.m.
Olympus at Cyprus, 4 p.m.
Timpanogos at Mountain Crest, 4 p.m.
Herriman/Provo at Woods Cross, 4 p.m.
Clearfield at Murray, 4 p.m.
Sky View at Maple Mountain, 4 p.m.