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2019 Baseball Capsule Previews

Updated March 11, 2019 - 3:13 pm

(as submitted by coaches)

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Head coach: Kurt McGinnis, second season

2018 record: 5-12 (4-12 2A Southern/seventh)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five (five)

Top players: SS Morechai Shirit (Jr.), P/C Harrison Clayton (Sr.), CF Sammy Katz (Sr.)

Outlook: The Lions return five starters and hope to show improvement this season.

“We have a very young and inexperienced team, but they are working very hard and look to compete in our challenging 2A Southern League,” McGinnis said.

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Head coach: Jordan Salazar, first season

2018 record: 19-13-1 (11-7 Northwest/fourth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Six (three)

Top players: IF/OF Jesse Pierce (Sr.), IF Nick Cornman (Sr.), P/OF Niles Scafati (Sr.)

Outlook: Salazar takes over a team that brings back only three starters.

Pierce (.406 average, 6 home runs, 32 RBIs), Scafati (.388) and Cornman (.312) should be among the leaders on offense.

“We have a group of talented, hard-working players with a focus on re-establishing our program back to the respected prominence it once held,” Salazar said.

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Head coach: Scott Baker, eighth season

2018 record: 32-7 (16-4 4A Sunrise/second)

Returning lettermen (starters): Ten (seven)

Top players: 1B John Howard Bobo (Jr.), 3B Kyle Turner (Sr.), OF Zach Hose (Jr.), OF Hunter Katschke (So.), P Shane Spencer (Sr.)

Outlook: The Wolves return seven starters in a quest to make the program’s fourth straight state tournament appearance.

Turner (.432 average, 11 doubles, 21 RBIs), Bobo (.366, 18 RBIs) and Hose (.361, 12 RBIs) return to guide an offense that also could get a spark from Katschke, a transfer from Bonanza.

Spencer (1.83 ERA in 15.1 innings) is back after battling a leg injury last year and should be one of the team’s top arms.

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Head coach: Leo Verzilli, sixth season

2018 record: 5-11 (2-4 1A Central/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five

Top players: Jacob Henry, Fabian Perez, Miguel Castro, Juan Lopez

Outlook: The Hornets return five lettermen from last year’s squad that finished one game out of the final playoff spot in the Central League.

“It should be a good season,” Verzilli said. “We have one senior and a bunch of juniors. We hope to get three or four athletic kids we can mold into ball players.

“We should make postseason play.”

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Head coach: Gino DiMaria, fifth season

2018 record: 26-9 (15-3 Southwest/second)

Returning lettermen (starters): Nine (six)

Top players: OF Carson Wells (Jr.), 3B John Gaughan (Sr.), 1B Christian Lamar (Sr.)

Outlook: The Gaels return six starters from a team that finished second in the Southwest League.

“It’s a young team,” DiMaria said. “We expect to compete in state.”

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Head coach: Mike O’Rourke, sixth season

2018 record: 9-20 (5-13 Southwest/fifth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Nine (six)

Top players: 1B Ryan Webster (Jr.), IF/P Keanu Atienza (Sr.), IF/P Julian DeLeon (Sr.), P Evan Walling (Sr.)

Outlook: The Bengals had a bit of a rough season, but bring back six starters.

Webster (.337 average, 12 RBIs), Atienza (.273, 13 RBIs) and DeLeon (.266) should be among the leaders on offense with Walling (2.84 ERA, 30 strikeouts, 32 innings) among the top pitchers.

“We hope to rebound for a tough season last year,” O’Rourke said. “We’re returning six starters and are hoping the playing experience we have will help put us back in contention for a playoff spot.”

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Head coach: Dennis Denton, first season

2018 record: 9-15 (6-10 2A Southern/sixth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eight (five)

Top players: CF Ryan Carroll (Sr.), SS Koby Myxter (Sr.), 3B Coby Delaney (Jr.), LF Chance Laswell (Fr.)

Outlook: Denton takes over a team that brings back five starters and hopes to contend for a Class 2A Southern League playoff spot.

“We’re looking for a good year,” Denton said.

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Head coach: Robert Wiley, third season

2018 record: 7-21 (3-17 4A Sunrise/ninth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Twelve (four)

Top players: OF/P Martin Blake (So.), UTL/P Gavin Rhynes (Sr.), P/OF/C Caleb Andes (Sr.), P/IF Aidan Moriarty

Outlook: Blake (.430, 10 RBIs) and Rhynes (.328, 22 RBIs) are among 12 returnees for the Pioneers.

“We are looking to get more competitive as the season goes on and continue to improve from season to season,” Wiley said.

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Head coach: Charlie Cerrone, 20th season

2018 record: 27-9 (15-3 Northwest/first)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eleven (four)

Top players: OF Austin Kryszczuk (Sr.), P/IF Kris Bow (Sr.), IF Zach Hare (Sr.), P/IF Nate Martin, IF Rene Almaraz (Sr.), OF/P Trevor Wright (Sr.)

Outlook: The Bulldogs bring back 11 lettermen, but only four starters.

“The Centennial baseball team was hit hard by graduation and will experience some growing pains early,” Cerrone said. “However, we have a good group of players and the team does have some veteran leaders to show the way.

“The Bulldogs will work hard and grind it out daily, and we hope to be playing our best baseball at the end of the season.”

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Head coach: Dave Soto, eighth season

2018 record: 25-8 (5-5 3A Sunrise/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Three (three)

Top players: 3B Rodney Elosegui (Jr.), C Cannon Greene (So.), P/1B Bryan Gonzalo (Sr.), SS Christopher Acosta (Fr.)

Outlook: Elosegui (.375 average, 32 RBIs) and Greene (.369, 17 RBIs) return to lead the offense, and Gonzalo (4-2) will guide the pitching staff for a team that has some lineup holes to fill as only three starters return.

“Pitching and defense will once again be the deciding factor in the upcoming season,” Soto said. “With a starting lineup that includes only one senior, the team will focus on doing the little things right. A pitching staff anchored by southpaw Bryan Gonzalo and a defense composed of Rodney Elosegui, Chris Acosta, Brandon Rodriguez, Cannon Greene and Bryan Gonzalo, and strength up the middle with Dennis Perez in center field .should make defense a priority in order to have the expected productive season.

“As always hard work, small ball, class and character and, of course, pride in representing Chaparral High School will be present, evident, and the most deciding factor in Cowboy success.”

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Head coach: Aaron Bailey, second season

2018 record: 2-14 (2-8 3A Sunset/sixth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Nine (six)

Top players: 3B/C Chris Rose (Sr.), OF/P Angel Astorga (Jr.), 1B/P Joe Moreno (Sr.)

Outlook: Rose (.552 average, 9 RBIs), Astorga (.447, 11 RBIs) and Moreno (.425, 7 RBIs) are among nine returning lettermen for the Desert Shields, who are hoping to continue improving under Bailey’s leadership.

“It’s still a relatively young ball club,” Bailey said. “We’re looking to build upon our successes from last year and take the next step forward this year.”

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Head coach: Mike Hubel, 18th season

2018 record: 22-13 (11-7 Northwest/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five (three)

Top players: SS/P Zach Culver (Sr.), IF/P Elie Kligman (So.), OF Jackson Folkman (Sr.), C Will Zadrowski (So.), IF Andrew Johnson (Jr.), UTL/P Ethan Daniel (So.)

Outlook: The Spartans have some lineup holes to fill as they bring back only three starters from last year’s team.

“We will have a good mix of younger and older players,” Hubel said. “We will compete and look to build for the future.”

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Head coach: Brian Gregorich, fifth season

2018 record: 7-22 (1-17 Southwest/seventh)

Returning lettermen (starters): Nine (five)

Top players: C/P/UTL Dylan King (Sr.), SS/P Luke Miles (So.), CF/IF Koby Cornejo (Sr.), 3B/P/UTL Elijah Fuchs (Sr.), OF/P Julio Hernandez (Sr.)

Outlook: The Chargers bring back five starters and hope to continue to improve this season.

“After gaining experience and improving throughout the season in 2018, the Chargers expect to play a confident and aggressive brand of baseball in 2019,” Gregorich said. “The Chargers have many players capable of playing multiple positions, and three of the team’s top four pitchers return.”

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Head coach: Rich Santigate, fourth season

2018 record: 21-12 (14-6 4A Sunrise/fifth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Seventeen (two)

Top players: C Ethan Stephens (Jr.), P/OF Logan Bleazard (Jr.), P/IF Josh Johnson (Jr.), 2B/3B Ryan Kiernan (Sr.), OF Kyle Rossman (Sr.)

Outlook: Stephens (.442 average), Rossman (.384), Bleazard (.270) and Johnson (.210) should be among the leaders on offense for a team that should get a boost from the addition of Kiernan.

“The Cougars will base the foundation of their success on some good young pitching and solid defense,” Santigate said. “They will use their speed to create opportunities on the bases and to pressure opposing defenses.”

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Head coach: Jorge Romero, sixth season

2018 record: 7-17 (1-9 3A Sunrise/sixth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five (five)

Top players: C/IF Bradley Walton (Sr.), P/IF Jose Galicia (Sr.), IF/P Logan Morgan (Sr.), IF/P Gelkis Digurnay (Jr.)

Outlook: The Dragons bring back five starters from last year’s team and hope to show significant improvement.

“We have several returning players with varsity experience,” Romero said. “Our hope is to compete for a league championship and make a deep run in regionals.”

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Head coach: Paul Buboltz, seventh season

2018 record: 30-5 (18-0 Southwest/first)

Returning lettermen (starters): Nine (seven)

Top players: C Parker Schmidt (Sr.), IF/P Aaron Roberts (Sr.), OF/P Josh Sharman (Sr.), IF Zac Czerniawski (Sr.), P D.J. Jefferson (Sr.), P/OF Campbell Holt (Sr.), P Tyler Montoya (Sr.)

Outlook: Coming off the program’s best season, the Diamondbacks return seven starters.

Schmidt (.432 average, 35 RBIs), Roberts (.383, 6 home runs, 24 RBIs) and Czerniawski (.343, 28 RBIs) return to guide the offense. Sharman (8-0, 1.66 ERA) and Jefferson (2-1, 3.59) should be among the leaders on the mound.

“We are playing a pretty tough non-league schedule which will hopefully prepare us for the very competitive conference we play in,” Buboltz said. “We have good depth pitching-wise which will give us a chance every day.

“We are preparing ourselves to hopefully be playing our best baseball at the end of the season.”

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Head coach: Ricky Earp, fifth season

2018 record: 21-10 (8-2 3A Sunset/second)

Returning lettermen (starters): Four (three)

Top players: P/SS/CF James Greco (Jr.), P/SS/CF Jorge Milian (Jr.)

Outlook: Greco (.319 average, 16 RBIs) and Milian (.302, 10 RBIs) are among only four returning lettermen for the Jaguars, who are coming off a highly-successful regular season, but making their return to Class 4A competition.

“We come into the season with a very inexperienced team,” Earp said. “We have three starters returning and several newcomers that look to make contributions. We will rely heavily on James Greco and Jorge Milian both on the mound and at the plate.

“It is going to be a struggle moving up to 4A under these circumstances, and we are looking to compete and improve over the course of the season.”

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Head coach: Sam Knapp, 17th season

2018 record: 12-20-1 (8-10 Southwest/fourth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eleven (five)

Top players: 1B/P Ryan Barry (Sr.), UTL/P Jacob Bavaro (Sr.), OF Renae Lara (Sr.), P Parker Mayo (Sr.), P/DH Chase Ludwick (Sr.), OF Irvin Weems (So.), P/UTL Daniel Hauben (Jr.), P/1B Tyler Donohue (Jr.)

Outlook: Weems (.341 average, 29 RBIs), Barry (23 RBIs), Bavaro (.295; 3-3, 3.32 ERA); Lara (.265); Ludwick (2.10 ERA), Mayo (2-2, 4.52 ERA), Hauben (5-5, 3.70 ERA) and Donohue (2-3) are among 11 returning lettermen for the Trailblazers.

“It’s a great group of kids that are fun to coach and that work hard,” Knapp said. “We’re looking to try to qualify for the playoffs.”

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Head coach: Brian Granata, first season

2018 record: 5-24 (2-18 4A Sunrise/10th)

Returning lettermen (starters): Thirteen (seven)

Top players: OF/P Aaron Rodgers (Sr.), IF/C/P Christian Younger (Sr.), IF/P Brandon Severson (Jr.), IF Andy Marrero (So.), C Jose Espejo (Sr.)

Outlook: Granata takes over for long-time coach Jesse Medellin and inherits a team with seven returning starters.

The Sundevils will hope to show improvement this season.

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Head coach: Dave Anderson, fourth season

2018 record: 12-16 (4-14 Northwest/sixth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Seventeen (seven)

Top players: P/1B Jake Ortega (Sr.), OF Sagan Gronauer (Sr.), P/UTL Michael Rice (Jr.)

Outlook: Ortega (.430 slugging percentage), Gronauer (.320 average) and Rice (27 innings, 28 strikeouts) lead a group of 17 returning lettermen for the Crusaders.

“We leaned heavily on young guys again last year, and we’ll see how much they have matured going into this year,” Anderson said. “We have plenty of guys who have varsity experience both in the field and on the mound. It comes down to their drive to change culture.

“I have high hopes for this team. I think we can make the jump into the playoffs and will be a very tough out for whoever lands us. We have a lot of arms and can execute with the best of them.”

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Head coach: Matt Iglitz, 13th season

2018 record: 17-15 (11-9 4A Sunrise/sixth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Ten (four)

Top players: IF/P Kelton Lachelt (Sr.), IF/P Jake Perales (Sr.), IF/P Ryan Nickell (Sr.), OF Tommy Dirk (Sr.)

Outlook: The Falcons return 10 lettermen, but only four starters from last year’s team.

“We believe that we have a team that will compete defensively and on the mound,” Iglitz said. “We really like our infield defense and our ability to go and get the ball in the outfield. We have good experience returning behind the plate and as a result, we should be pretty tough defensively.

“Offensively, we will need to see some individual improvements in order to score some runs in our new region. We’re hoping a few guys will step up and lead us in an effort to improve our ability to score runs.

The Falcons have eight seniors and nine juniors on their 19-player roster.

“We have a good core of some juniors and seniors that have really given us everything they have for three or four years,” Iglitz said. “They are really good kids, fun to be around, and it’s a great group to practice with. We look forward to working with these kids every day, and we are excited to get the chance to watch them play.”

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Head coach: Matt Harrison, first season

2018 record: 20-13 (15-5 4A Sunrise/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Ten (seven)

Top players: C Gavin Amelburu (Sr.), IF Garrett Nelson (Sr.), IF Gavin Malcolm (Jr.), IF Scott Gruber (Sr.), OF Max Leuga (Jr.), P Cristian Dugger (Sr.)

Outlook: Harrison takes over a team that brings back seven starters.

Amelburu (.420 average, 8 home runs, 43 RBIs), Nelson (.396, 5 HR, 27 RBIs), Malcolm (.346), Gruber (.333) and Leuga (.333, 13 doubles) all return and should be key players on offense. Dugger (3.23 ERA) is back on the mound.

“Green Valley brings back a solid core of returning starters who are chomping at the bit to renew the dominance our program exacts of us,” Harrison said. “Every year we have very high expectations at Green Valley, and this year is certainly no different.

“We are looking forward to competing for a state championship this season.”

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Head coach: Clark Davis, first season

2018 record: 2-8 (independent)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eight (eight)

Top players: P Logan Hall (Sr.), C Diego Guerra (Sr.), 1B Cameron Forsythe (Jr.), SS Jaiden Veltre (Jr.)

Outlook: The Guardians become the fifth member of the Class 1A Central League this season, joining Beatty, Round Mountain, Spring Mountain and Tonopah.

“We are treating this season as an expansion season, building the team from the ground up,” Davis said. “This is first year we are eligible for playoffs, and first year with this coaching staff. Our goals are to surprise people this season.”

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Head coach: Gary Desch, third season

2018 record: 19-9 (12-4 2A Southern/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five (four)

Top players: C/P/IF Joey Johnson (Sr.), IF/P Bryan White (So.), IF/P Dominic Desch (So.)

Outlook: Johnson (.474 average, 27 RBIs; 6-1 record), White (.377, 35 RBIs; 3-2 record) and Desch (.483, 31 RBIs; 3-1 record) lead a group of five returnees for the Eagles.

“After being runner up in the Southern 2A Conference and third at state, we hope to return to last year’s form,” Desch said. “We have a very young team with only two seniors returning. The outlook is bright.”

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Head coach: Sam Thomas, 21st season

2018 record: 16-15 (9-11 4A Sunrise/seventh)

Returning lettermen (starters): Twelve (seven)

Top players: C Leonel Anaya (Sr.), UTL Danny Jimenez (Sr.), IF Nathan Freimuth (Sr.), OF Joel Lindahl (So.), 1B Trevor Johnson (Jr.)

Outlook: The Wildcats return seven starters from last year’s team.

“With the new region layout, and the strenghth of the Northwest, we are hoping to compete for a playoff berth,” Thomas said.

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Head coach: Tony Petrik, 24th season

2018 record: 15-8 (10-6 2A Southern/fourth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five (five)

Top players: IF Tyreece Gonzales (Sr.), IF Tyrell Gonzales (Jr.), IF Dann Perry (Jr.), IF Malik Ksouri (Jr.), IF Diego Trujillo (Jr.)

Outlook: After qualifying for the Class 2A Southern League playoffs last year, the Cougars return five starters.

“I think we will have a nice core of returning players, but several young kids are going to get their opportunity to play this spring,” Petrik said. “Needles, Lincoln, Lake Mead, Calvary, and The Meadows all look like they should field very competitive teams this season.”

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Head coach: Joey Lauria, third season

2018 record: 3-25 (0-18 Northwest/seventh)

Returning lettermen (starters): Nine (seven)

Top players: SS/P Logan Berrier (Sr.), 3B/P Aaron Lopez (So.), C Fabian Torres (Jr.), OF Zach Ahmed (Jr.), OF/P Isaiah Buhecker (Sr.)

Outlook: The Longhorns took their lumps last season, but bring back seven starters who are a year wiser and more experienced.

“Coming off a solid fall season we look to keep the momentum going,” Lauria said. “Our expectation is to compete every pitch, we look forward to the new challenge that awaits us in the Mountain League. From a pitching standpoint we will be leaning on some younger guys to compete for us.

“Offensively, our seniors are going to have to come up with some critical timely hits throughout the year. We are very excited as a staff to get the 2019 season started.”

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Head coach: Rich Ebarb, first season

2018 record: 17-15 (14-6 4A Sunrise/fourth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eighteen (eight)

Top players: OF/IF Mason Bowden (Sr.), CF Kaden Camat-Toki (Sr.), OF/1B Logan Coons (Sr.), C/UTL Jimmy Katona (Sr.), IF/P Dutch Landis (Sr.), 1B/OF/P Ethan Safier (Sr.), SS/UTL Dylan San Nicolas (Sr.), 3B/UTL Zanden Shim (Sr.), P Dawson Beard (Sr.)

Outlook: Ebarb takes over a team that brings back eight starters and welcomes in Landis (.381 average, 8 home runs, 32 RBIs; 8-2, 2.58 ERA), a transfer from Bishop Gorman.

Safier (.432, 7 RBIs), Bowden (.410, 15 RBIs), San Nicolas (.358, 11 RBIs), Coons (.351, 12 RBIs) and Shim (.302, 24 RBIs) should also be among the offensive leaders.

Bohnet (3-1, 2.43 ERA) is among the leaders on a pitching staff that has plenty of options.

“This year’s team has a bright future with 13 returning seniors,” Ebarb said. “The team is working hard and maturing as a baseball family. We also have several returning underclass lettermen that are standout, spot starters to give us an added edge, including Chase Gallegos, Jack Hale, Josh Rogers and Ky Yamamoto.”

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Head coach: Brad Halverson, fourth season

2018 record: 7-4 (independent)

Returning lettermen (starters): Six (six)

Top players: P/IF Trevor Campbell (Jr.), P/IF Bryan Smith (Sr.), OF/IF Joseph Foronda (Sr.), C/IF Jonathan Teis (So.), OF E.J. Foronda (So.)

Outlook: The Knights bring back six starters as they continue to build the program.

“We have a young group of core guys who have played for three years together and are very excited about the upcoming season,” Halverson said. “This team is expected to compete and match up against any team they face this season.

“We will be participating in two tournaments early in the season which will only add valuable chemistry to this group.”

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Head coach: Raymond Wadsworth, seventh season

2018 record: 26-7 (16-0 2A Southern/first)

Returning lettermen (starters): Fifteen (eight)

Top players: P/IF Kobe Walker (Sr.), P/IF Alex Vincent (Sr.), P/C McKinley O’Connor (Sr.), P/IF Mason Thornock (Jr.), OF Kamden Lewis (Sr.), OF Dean Ottley (Jr.), P/IF Kobe Kelley (So.), P/OF Matt Hafen (So.), P/IF Talon Phillips (So.)

Outlook: The three-time defending Class 2A state champions bring back eight starters.

Walker, Vincent, O’Connor and Thornock all were first-team Class 2A all-state honorees last year.

“We hope to be able to compete in every game,” Wadsworth said. “We would like to be peaking at the right moment in order to make a push into the league and state playoffs.

“Competing for a state championship is our main goal.”

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Head coach: Andy Concepcion, first season

2018 record: 13-9 (9-7 2A Southern/fifth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Seven (seven)

Top players: 3B Sam Kaplan (Sr.), C Justin Tanaka (Sr.), P/1B Eshaan Verma (Sr.), IF Trey Covell (Jr.), CF Brett Lieuallen (Jr.)

Outlook: Kaplan, who has committed to play college baseball at Cornell, leads a group of seven returnees for the Mustangs.

“I am new to this division with a team that will go out and compete hard in every game,” Concepcion said. “We are led by senior captain Sam Kaplan, who is one of the top players in the state.

“Our expectations are to win the state championship.”

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Head coach: Jason Sirak, first season

2018 record: 7-22 (3-7 4A Sunset/fourth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Six (six)

Top players: SS/P Kevin Gutierrez (Sr.), IF/P Mike Cianci (Jr.), C/3B Tyler Beadles (Jr.), 1B/P Logan Forepaugh (Jr.), UTL/P Caleb Forepaugh (So.)

Outlook: Cianci (.473 average, 21 RBIs), Caleb Forepaugh (.400), Gutierrez (.305), Beadles (.288) and Logan Forepaugh (.225) are among six returnees for a team that hopes to again qualify for postseason play.

“We have a solid core group of returning varsity players. We take steps forward everyday toward building a successful program,” Sirak said. “The guys have set high goals and expectations for themselves as student-athletes and as a team. We look forward to watching them grow and mature throughout the season.”

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Head coach: Cary Stanton, second season

2018 record: 4-21 (2-14 2A Southern/seventh)

Returning lettermen (starters): Four (four)

Top players: CF/3B/P Rason McClennan (Sr.), 1B/P Hugo Fajardo (So.), SS Nick Santana (So.), 2B/OF/P Xander Cook (So.)

Outlook: Stanton returns for his second stint as Mountain View’s coach and inherits a team with only four returnees.

The Saints have only one senior and three juniors on a 12-player roster.

“We are hoping that we improve as we go along,” Stanton said.

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Head coach: Ken Parker, 12th season

2018 record: 18-9-1 (13-3 2A Southern/second)

Returning lettermen (starters): Seven (six)

Top players: IF Dillon Horn (Sr.), IF Dawson Yeager (So.), IF/C Nathan Parker (Jr.), OF Tyler White (Jr.), OF Damon Lewis (Sr.)

Outlook: The Mustangs bring back six starters who hope to help the team contend for a state tournament berth.

“It’s a good returning core, athletic and versatile athletes playing multiple positions,” Ken Parker said.

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Head coach: Brad Loveday, 26th season

2018 record: 20-8 (5-1 1A Southern/second)

Returning lettermen (starters): Twelve (six)

Top players: P/SS Stockton Maxwell (Sr.), P/OF Preston Higbee (Jr.), OF Jesse Jones (Jr.), 3B John Hansen (Jr.)

Outlook: The Panthers have played in the Class 1A state championship game each of the last three years, and should be primed for a successful season again this year.

Six starters return from last year’s squad.

“We should be very competitive in our league,” Loveday said.

— —


Head coach: Brian Hayes, seventh season

2018 record: 20-17-1 (9-1 3A Sunset/first)

Returning lettermen (starters): Ten (six)

Top players: C Willie Lucas (Sr.), OF/P Dylan Grossell (Sr.), OF Tyler Floyd (Sr.), 2B/P Joey Koenig (Sr.), SS/P Chase McDaniel (Jr.), 3B/P Cyle Havel (Jr.), OF/P Jalen Denton (So.)

Outlook: The Trojans return 10 lettermen from a team that advanced to the Class 3A state tournament.

Lucas (.381, 18 RBIs), Grossell (.342, 19 RBIs; 3-1 record), Floyd (.297), McDaniel (.339, 21 RBIs), Havel (.325, 19 RBIs; 5 saves, 3.40 ERA, 36 strikeouts in 22 innings), Denton (2-1, 3.23 ERA) and Koenig (.241) all return to guide the team.

“Expectations are high for our boys,” Hayes said. “With a taste of success at the state level, we are hungry for more. Competing pitch by pitch is our mission this season. If we can do that, it will be a season to remember.

— —


Head coach: Joe Hallead, fourth season

2018 record: 31-9 (14-4 Northwest/second)

Returning lettermen (starters): Ten (five)

Top players: P/3B/OF Bryce Robison (Sr.), SS/P Peyton Cole (Sr.), C/OF Josiah Cromwick (Jr.), 2B Nate Bartlett (Sr.), 1B Tyler Kim (Sr.), P/3B Jaden Agassi (Jr.), IF/P Paul Myro (Jr.)

Outlook: The Panthers won their first state championship last year and bring back 10 lettermen from that squad.

Robison (8-2, 1.90 ERA, 67 strikeouts; .287 average, 5 home runs), Cole (.467, 6 HR, 18 RBIs), Cromwick (.369, 7 HR, 31 RBIs), Bartlett (.386, 12 doubles, 13 RBIs) and Kim (.291, 10 doubles, 19 RBIs) all should be among the leaders on a team that also will get a spark from the addition of USC commit Agassi and Oregon State commit Myro.

“We have an extraordinary schedule this season that we believe will have us battle-tested and ready to make a push in the playoffs,” Hallead said. “We are in a very competitive league where any team can be beaten on any particular day.

“We are focusing on doing our job each and every day and playing a faceless opponent. If our team can focus on that approach, I am excited to see where we end up in May.”

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Head coach: Manny Llamas, third season

2018 record: 29-8 (17-3 4A Sunrise/first)

Returning lettermen (starters): Seven (one)

Top players: C Matthew Baughn (Sr.), P Tanner Ray (Sr.), P/OF Cristopher Verdugo (Sr.), CF Donovan Gladney (Jr.), SS Jairo Verdugo (So.)

Outlook: The Rams return seven lettermen, but only one starter, from last year’s Sunrise League champions.

Baughn (.362 average, 22 RBIs), Cristopher Verdugo (.429; 2-0, 3.90 ERA), Ray (3-2, 3.02 ERA, 31 strikeouts in 34.2 innings) and Gladney (.364) are expected to be among the team’s leaders.

“This team is eager to showcase their talents,” Llamas said. “They can compete with any team in the state.

“We will be relying on a lot of young, inexperienced players to fill our lineup, but our ability to pitch will help us win ball games.”

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Head coach: Frank Tousa, 12th season

2018 record: 15-16 (8-10 Northwest/fifth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Fourteen (six)

Top players: 1B Branson Tressler (Jr.), UTL Andrue Sanchez (Jr.), 3B/P Brennen Lyman (Sr.), OF Austin Cullor (Sr.), SS Kristian Saldana (Sr.), OF Tyler Black (Sr.), P Mason Rhiner (Sr.), P Tyler Vizcarra (Sr.)

Outlook: The Mustangs often paid a price for being young last year, but should reap the benefits of 14 returnees this year.

Tressler (.418 average, 16 RBIs), Sanchez (.397), Lyman (.352, 20 RBIs), Cullor (.325, 16 RBIs), Saldana (.270) and Black (.250) should be among the leaders on offense with Lyman, Rhiner and Vizcarra all back on the mound.

“We were able to get some valuable experience last year with a young team, and hope to compete for a playoff spot this year,” Tousa said. “We expect our returning players to lead our team to compete on a daily basis.”

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Head coach: Tom Maxwell, first season

2018 record: 8-22 (5-13 Southwest/fifth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Six (four)

Outlook: Maxwell takes over a team that placed fifth in the Southwest League last season and hopes to show improvement this year.

“We will field a competitive team that will battle for a playoff spot,” Maxwell said.

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Head coach: Brian Whitaker, 25th season

2018 record: 11-19-1 (8-12 4A Sunrise/eighth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Twelve (five)

Top players: 2B Caleb Hubbard (Jr.), P Chris Cortez (So.), 1B Jarod Hill (Sr.), C Brant Hunt (Jr.), CF Sean Graves (Sr.)

Outlook: Hubbard (.379 average), Hill (.333), Hunt (.288) and Graves (.286) all return to help guide the offense, and Cortez (3-1, 1.89 ERA) is expected to be among the team’s top pitchers.

“The Skyhawks are loyal, committed, and possess high integrity,” Whitaker said. “The roster is full of talented players with outstanding makeup. It is fun to go to the ballpark every day.

“The task of extending the 22-year playoff appearance streak will be put to the test in the tough Desert Region. The work order is clear, the hope is we can get it done by the end of the year.”

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Head coach: Mike Cofer, first season

2018 record: 12-10 (independent)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eleven (eight)

Top players: P/OF Anthony Kopecky (Jr.), C/SS Ozzy Zawislak (So.), IF/P Jonluke Hobdy (So.), 1B Donovan Escobar (So.), IF Jake Balsterholt (Jr.), OF Jareyn Yamaguchi (Jr.), P/UTL Josh Balsterholt (Jr.), P/IF Daemein Hargrove (Jr.)

Outlook: The building process continues for the Bulls, who start the program’s third season.

“We have a core group of young men that have worked hard and improved in the game of baseball,” Cofer said. “We have a very difficult schedule for 2019 but have high expectations. We will look to battle versus the majority of Class 3A schools and gain experience versus the Class 4A competition on our schedule.

“We will participate in the Lions Tournament in San Diego and will focus on maturing and improving this season while looking forward to 2020 as a full 3A participant.”

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Head coach: Jeff Pienta, first season

2018 record: 19-13 (11-7 Southwest/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eight (six)

Top players: P/IF Erik Dulittle (Sr.), P/1B Braxton Bruschke (Sr.), P/IF Michael Marrraro (Sr.), IF Kade Higgins (Jr.), OF Chase Rodriguez (Jr.)

Outlook: Pienta takes over for Paul Bassett, who won 191 games in 10 seasons on the Grizzlies’ bench.

He inherits a team with six returning starters.

“We hope to be competitive and qualify for playoffs,” Pienta said.

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Head coach: Antonio Morales, fifth season

2018 record: 5-20 (3-7 3A Sunset/fifth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Six (five)

Top players: SS/P Brian Ruiz (Sr.), C/UTL Edgar Garcia (Jr.), IF/P Jamie Escobedo (So.), 1B Angel Mora (Jr.), IF/OF Isaiah Gonzalez (Jr.)

Outlook: The Miners return five starters from last year’s squad but will be young with room to improve.

“We have a group of hard-working young men whose number one goal is to get back to the playoffs,” Morales said. “With only two seniors, this group is still young and will continue to grow throughout the season.”

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Head coach: Bill Stuber, 14th season

2018 record: 17-13 (4-6 3A Sunrise/fourth)

Returning lettermen (starters): Five (four)

Top players: IF/P Jose Leon (Jr.), IF/P Jason Collingbourne (Jr.), P Matt Martinolich (Jr.), OF Sean Morgan (Jr.)

Outlook: Leon (.453, 11 doubles, 30 RBIs; 8-2, 3.60 ERA, 52 strikeouts), Collinbourne (.330, 3 home runs, 23 RBIs), Morgan (.262, 13 RBIs) and Martinolich (1-1, 1 save) are among five returnees for the Roadrunners.

“Our team is very young with only a few guys who saw significant playing time on the field last year returning,” Stuber said. “We have no seniors so we will be looking to juniors Jose Leon, Jason Collingbourne, and Sean Morgan to step up and take leadership roles.

“Leon and Collingbourne will be relied on to lead the offense. We expect Morgan and sophomore Anthony Suazo to contribute at the plate along with freshmen Griffin Marcelino and Alex Padua. Leon, junior Matt Martinolich, Suazo, and Padua will make up our rotation on the mound and be expected to eat up some innings.”

The Roadrunners also step up in competition this year, returning to Class 4A.

“Our schedule became a whole lot tougher this year,” Stuber said. “Our goal is to compete every game and be a better team at the end of the year than we were at the start.”

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Head coach: Tyler Winters, first season

2018 record: 1-28 (1-19 4A Sunrise/11th)

Returning lettermen (starters): Six (six)

Top players: SS/P Dustin Thompson (Jr.), 1B/C/P Gustavo Donate (Sr.), 2B/P Gary Bricker (So.), CF/P John Rex Natividad (Jr.), 3B/P Kevin Sanchez (Fr.)

Outlook: Donate (.386 average), Natividad (.278) and Bricker (.258) are among six returnees for the Vikings, who hope to show improvement this season.

“The team is rebuilding,” Winters said. “We have a lot of new young talent in the program and should be very competitive in league.”

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Head coach: Jeremy Erlan, first season

2018 record: 9-17 (5-5 3A Sunset/third)

Returning lettermen (starters): Eight (six)

Top players: SS Sebastian Reyes (Sr.), P/1B Gonzalo Lopez (Sr.), CF Mark Gastelum (Sr.), C Chris Williams (Jr.), OF Xavier Thomas (Sr.)

Outlook: Erlan takes over a team that placed third in the Class 3A Sunset League last year.

“With a team full of returning players, Western High School baseball is excited for the new season,” Erlan said. “The team expects to make it to playoffs for a second straight season and is hungry for an opportunity to redeem themselves from what happened last year.”

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