'Best feeling ever': Father and son bring another trophy home to cap Lehi's historic first year in 6A

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OREM — The Lehi Pioneers were expected to struggle in their first year moving up from 5A to 6A.

Apparently, no one listened, and now they've brought home another championship — and it was another father-son duo that did it.

Following in the footsteps of Saint Mary's commit Cooper Lewis and his father, now full-time Pioneers athletics director Quincy Lewis, it was Mays Madsen, his brother, Murphy, and father Eric Madsen who claimed Lehi's first-ever 6A baseball championship Saturday.

The title capped off an expectation-defying first year in Utah's top high school division which saw Lehi advance to the football semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium and win both championships in baseball and boys basketball — facing Corner Canyon all three instances.

"Where our team started and where we got to, no one really thought we had a chance," Mays Madsen said. "We just believed in ourselves the whole season."

The belief, he added, came from the experience gained playing a difficult region schedule that included the likes of American Fork and Pleasant Grove, and early-season tournaments that featured the likes of Region 1 power Syracuse and 4A champion Snow Canyon.

Which should have come as no surprise, then, when Lehi sent a message by whipping the Riverton Silverwolves in the opening round of the 6A tournament at Brigham Young's Larry H. Miller Field, propelled by a sequence that included three run-scoring triples — with one by Madsen — saw Lehi break away for a 7-0 lead, en route to a dominant 10-5 victory.

"It doesn't matter who you face in baseball, everyone is good," Eric Madsen said. "Our staff did a great job helping the players understand if you do what you're supposed to do, there's nothing to fear."

Maybe that's why the Pioneers plated four runs in the top of the sixth inning against the Cavemen and four in the top of the seventh inning the next day to knock out Riverton in the semifinals, and looked confident doing it.

And both rallies were kicked off with base hits by Mays Madsen — his leadoff single sparked the comeback against the Cavemen, while he had the leadoff hit to initially tie the game against the Silverwolves, along with the go-ahead RBI sacrifice fly.

"It made me proud to watch him step up in those moments," Eric Madsen said. "He takes winning super personally; he has high expectations for himself, and he wants to make a name for himself."

It also made Eric Madsen recall the Pioneers' gut-wrenching loss in a winner-take-all game last year to Kim Nelson and Timpanogos, where son Mays embraced his older brother, McGwire, now serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil, sobbing and apologizing to him for not winning a title.

This time around, Eric was the one that held onto his son, Mays, as they celebrated together.

"He was the first person I looked for out of the pile," Mays Madsen said. "That embrace I had with him was the best feeling ever."

It also added to Lehi's impressive resume with two championships in three of the major sports in Utah — boys basketball, baseball, and football. It also made the second father-son duo to bring home a Pioneer title this year, with the Madsens joining Quincy and Cooper Lewis this past March.

Eric said the first person that sent him congratulations following the win was Quincy Lewis, just how Eric did for him after the Pioneers won the boys basketball title at the Huntsman Center.

"I used to see Cooper shooting in the gym at 6 in the morning, and I knew what he had brought to the team," Eric Madsen said. "Being with your son in winning a title, you assume they work hard as a coach; but when you're a dad, too, you see it firsthand."

Cooper's work ethic also rubbed off on Mays Madsen, who said his daily interactions with the Saint Mary's commit and future missionary in Portland, Oregon, helped him "trust (himself) and keep rolling."

And it's what the Madsens hope to keep doing next year, too.

"We can't think we've already earned it," Mays Madsen said. "We have a lot coming back, but we still have to work for it."

That mindset will be created in the fall, Eric Madsen said, where the players coming in will need to decide whether to roll on the momentum of last year, or get caught up in the pressure of having a target on their backs.

"The kids will see what they're capable of," he added. "Even then, they still believe they can win; that's just how Lehi athletes are."

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