BY TAD HENDERSON
WOODS CROSS — The Anaheim Lions Baseball Tournament began in 1975 with only eight teams.
This year, the tournament included 76 baseball teams, including four from the state of Utah.
High school teams from Lehi, Riverton, Viewmont and Woods Cross made the long bus journey over spring break to find sunny skies and tough California competition.
Viewmont’s Roger Farnsworth is well experienced with traveling out of state for preseason games.
Over the years he has taken teams to Las Vegas, San Diego and, for the fourth straight year, Anaheim.
“As a team bonding experience, there is nothing better, so I’ve done it for a lot of years,” said Farnsworth. “The kids live with each other and get to know each other better. I believe it ends up being one of the most memorable experiences of their high school careers.”
Woods Cross coach Paul Ayala agreed, sending his Wildcats to Anaheim for the second consecutive year.
“It gets us out of Utah weather and we get to see some good California baseball teams,” he said. “We try to make it fun as well.”
The Lions tournament guarantees five games and hosts teams at the city parks of Anaheim and Fullerton, but also at local high school fields from Anaheim and as far southКas San Juan Capistrano.К
Parker Taggart was named the Viewmont team tournament MVP for his consistent play and said the California teams are very focused during the annual tournament.
“They know their responsibilities and execute so well,” he said.
Teammate Hunter Roybal agreed, adding that California teams play “with a trust in each other.”
“You can tell they have a good team bond,” said Woods Cross’ Shaden Fisher. “The California teams do the little things so well, like bunting and base running. I really appreciate how big the little things are after this trip.”
Ayala echoed Fisher’s comments, and said the California teams executed very well throughout the tournament, and made an emphasis to play ‘small ball,’ moving base runners one base at a time.
“Seeing them execute well helps my team,” he said. “They see how important playing small ball is, the hit and run. They come back understanding why we do it, so the trip really benefits us.”
Farnsworth also feels like there is a carry over once his team gets back to Utah, adding that his teams plays significantly better because of the out-of-state competition.
“We improve our weak spots and seem to know how to compete better,” he said.
Taggart said all the Vikings’ players become closer as a team due to the tournament, and thinks “there is a lot our team learned about how to focus better that will help us for region play this week.”
Roybal summed it up best, however:
“There’s nothing better than playing baseball with my buddies,” he said.
Now they can all add a fun trip to California that included a Dodger/Giants game, and much more, to their list of baseball memories.
Both teams returned to action this week. Woods Cross downed Clearfield 3-2 Tuesday afternoon, and Viewmont began Region 2 play with a game against Kearns at home Wednesday afternoon.
Editor’s note: Tad Henderson is the parent of a Veiwmont player.