As best friends since preschool - the two Judge Memorial baseball players were in the same tots group in Davis County - Joe Pond and Tyson Moll have spent a lot of time together. From little league all-star games to today, as Bulldogs teammates, the two are, and have always been, inseparable.
    Pond is on the mound and Moll catches.
    The juniors are having breakout seasons and hoping to lead Judge back to the state championship game for a second consecutive year.
    And both have heard all about the high expectations that come with playing for the Bulldogs, before. On a near-daily basis, the two are reminded of the great Judge athletes ahead of them and the talented crop of sophomores coming up through the ranks.
    Still, Moll and Pond try to take the season one game at a time, avoiding fanfare as much as possible. With standout multi-sport athletes like Cort Dennison and Dominique Parker in the spotlight in the early part of the season, the recognition, or lack thereof, hasn't fazed Moll and Pond, who also keep busy in the weight room and playing different sports year-round.
    In fact, the 17-year-olds filled important roles on Judge's junior varsity football team this season, with Pond at quarterback and Moll, who got also some varsity time, at fullback and linebacker. They also played basketball together their freshman and sophomore years, but have decided to devote more time to developing their respective roles on the football and baseball teams.
    "We try to separate ourselves. The class above us had a lot of talented athletes and we have always lived under that shadow," Pond said. "I have confidence in Tyson on the field and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way about me. We have fun out there, but we work hard and want to win. "
    The hard work is paying off. Judge is in a comfortable spot, at the top of Region 10. Judge is a young team, with only two seniors but with a solid supporting cast of juniors and sophomores. Moll bats fourth and Pond is right behind, in the five-spot. The two are known as deep hitters who not only bat for average, but who also hit home runs and load up on RBIs.
    "This year Joe has been throwing the ball really well. There have been games where he's untouchable. I think I have pretty good arm strength to complement Joe's pitching and I can see where the ball needs to go," Moll said. "Right now as a team, we just go out there and play ball. Of course I'd love to get back to the championship game, but there's no need for anybody on this team to get ahead of themselves."
    While Steve Stahl and Jaxon Myaer are the team's leaders, Moll and Pond credit their own success in part to learning from those seniors whose differing approaches to baseball have helped steer the program in the right direction. From Myaer's free-spirited approach to Stahl's blue-collar work ethic, the juniors often exhibit similar leadership characteristics. The two also have big-game experience that will come into play once the playoffs begin, later this month.
    Juniors like Moll and Pond have made his coach Jeff Myaer's job a whole lot easier. As a Centerville-area product, Myaer had known about the players and their hard-nosed style of play dating back to their elementary-school days at St. Olaf's in Bountiful.
    "When you don't have to coach effort, it's fun to be a coach. They're just good kids and they literally do everything together" Myaer said. "There are times when Tyson will tell Joe to get the ball out of the dirt and then Joe will tell him to do better at blocking the ball. In any other situation, those kinds of directions would be left up to the coaches. When you're watching those two out there, it's like watching brothers interact."
    Judge wraps up its season with road games at rivals Park City and Juan Diego, and Pond thinks the Bulldogs have put in a lot of hard work in the off-season and are ready to make another deep run. The taste of playing in a championship game last year has the team excited to make it back, and play even better than the previous season.
    "We don't come out with an arrogance or swagger, but I'd say it's an expectation that we will perform and every player will do their part," Pond said. "As a team, we're selfless and that's what I love about this program. At first Tyson and I kind of got thrown into the fire because there wasn't much of a program at Judge back then, but I think it really helped us to be in a position now where we know we can win the state championship."
    * Judge's Joe Pond, a pitcher, and catcher Tyson Moll have been close friends since they were 3-years old.
    * Their longtime friendship improves both of their games, says Bulldog coach Jeff Myaer, because of their above-average communication.