PLAYERS TO KNOW
MASON PETERSON, SR., LONGMONT — After batting .164 as a sophomore, the middle infielder came back to hit .462 as a junior with 17 extra-base hits.
EASTON ADLER, SR., MEAD — Mavericks' most seasoned returning player will be looked to as a leader for new coach Greg Brock.
MITCH TYSE, SR., FAIRVIEW — Santa Clara signee hit .405 with four home runs last year for the Knights.
COOPER ROTHE, SR., LONGMONT — His .327 career average is good, but his work tracking down lots of baseballs in center is an art for the all-around great athlete.
AUSTIN WOOD, SR., SILVER CREEK — After taking off the football season to focus on baseball, Wood could be one of the state's premier pitching aces.
FORD LADD, SR., NIWOT — Looking to bring the Cougars back up to the level they're used to, Ladd will anchor the middle of the lineup and pitch, too.
TANNER FULKERSON, SR., DAWSON SCHOOL — Struck out 35 batters in 19 innings of work on the hill last year, and could see more time as a pitcher with it sorely needed.
JOSH CRITES, SR., ERIE — One of two first team All Tri-Valley players returning, Crites has some top-notch range at shortstop.
ADAM STOWE, SR., BOULDER — Always a threat to make a highlight-reel play in centerfield, Stowe should be a much bigger contributor at the plate as a senior, too.
BLAKE BRIDE, SR., PEAK TO PEAK — Peterson's teammate on the Monarch hockey team has stick skills, and he collected 35 hits last year and increased his power numbers.
Class 1A districts are to be completed by May 7, while Class 2A-5A districts will be completed by May 14. Regionals and other rounds of state will proceed the following weekends, leading up to the 1A championship (May 19), 2A championship (May 28) and 3A-5A championships (May 27-28).
Coach: Colt Sedbrook (Third season)
Last year: 10-9 overall; 6-6 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters : Max Bajza (Jr., C); Cameron Burke (Sr., OF/P); Aiden Chandler (Jr., INF/C/P); Sam Douglas (Sr., P/1B); Mason Hitz (P/INF); Andrew McCarthy (Sr., INF/P); Isaac Parks, (Sr., P); Henry Ryan (Jr., INF/P); Adam Stowe (Sr., OF); Dana Sullivan (Jr., OF/1B); Jordan Wardell (Sr., OF).
Others to watch: Alex Arvizu (Jr., C/INF/P); Derek Cunningham (Jr., OF/P); Ben Davis (Jr., INF); Jackson Dinkel (So., P); Jake L'Heureux (Sr., UTIL); Cameron Mainland (Jr., OF/P); Max Pulitzer (Sr., UTIL/P); Sanjay Solomon (So., P).
Outlook: Sedbrook has had high expectations since Day 1, and after missing out on playoffs last year when it appeared they would get in, the Panthers are more invested than ever. Several seniors will contribute to the cause, but Ryan, Chandler and Sullivan are experienced as juniors, too. Sedbrook seeks consistency first and foremost.
Coach: Garren Estes (12th season)
Last year: 6-12 overall; 4-8 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters : Angelo Alvarado, (Sr., INF); Chase Arnold, (Sr., OF); Nick Carter (Sr., INF); Joshua Cox (Jr., OF); Eddie Flores (Sr., OF/P); James Noraty (Jr., P/SS); Walter Pennington (Sr., OF/P).
Others to watch: Mason Speirs (Jr., C).
Outlook: A second season in the 5A Front Range League should go better for the Eagles simply because of coaching, and the team brings back a couple of their top run producers in Cox and Noraty. There are a few arms with which to build up, as well.
Coach: Mark Gonzales (First season)
Last year: 8-11 overall; 6-8 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters : Eric Gambon (Jr., 1B); Balin Jessip (Jr., SS/P); Brandon Larson (Sr., OF); Anthony Losasso (Jr., 2B);* Brooks MacDonald (Sr., P); Joe Milano (Jr., C).
Others to watch: Trevor Erickson (Fr., OF); Manuel Lucero (So., OF).
Outlook: Gonzales takes over a team that always seems one bad inning away from a win a lot of times, so perhaps these Warriors can start putting up their own crooked numbers. It is a younger squad who will look to develop pitching as the season progresses.
DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS
Coach: Joe McKenzie (Third season)
Last year: 11-8 overall; 5-2 Class 2A District 4
Returning starters : Seth Clemente (Jr., 2B); Chase Fulkerson (So., UTIL); Tanner Fulkerson (Sr., SS/P); Cade McClellan (Jr., OF); Max McClellan (Sr., C); Michael Nannen (Sr., 1B); Chris Slade (Sr., CF/P); Zack Sommerville (3B/DH).
Others to watch: Luke Feigal (Sr., 3B/P).
Outlook: With a chance to get some quality innings on the mound from different guys, the Mustangs hope to peak this year and make a run in districts behind this versatile group. Feigal adds to the athleticism and rotation, and there's an overall team togetherness this year that has McKenzie excited.
Coach: Harold Simmons (Eighth season)
Last year: 18-5 overall; 13-1 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters : Clint Allen (Sr., C/INF/P); Luke Conilogue (Sr., OF); Josh Crites (Sr., SS/P); Zach Elliston (Jr., OF); Nic Gavit (Sr., UTIL/SP).
Others to watch: Ryley Deckert (Jr., OF); Hunter Nelson (Jr., 1B); Ruben Portillo (Jr., INF/P); Matt Sorenson (Sr., DH/OF); Victor Villa (Jr., INF/P).
Outlook: Many believe the Tri-Valley League is open for anyone to win, but Erie is the team trying to defend its league title this year and it goes into the season optimistic for a repeat. Crites and Conilogue are the everyday reliables, and Simmons said Gavit and Elliston could break out after great summer play.
Coach: David Castillo (First season)
Last year: 17-4 overall; 11-1 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters : Stone Streeter (Jr., INF); Mitch Tyse (Sr., OF).
Others to watch: Tyler Carpenter (Jr., INF/P); Teddy Lewitt (Jr., OF/P); Sam McGill (Jr., C); Jordan Scheufele (Sr., OF/P).
Outlook: Castillo inherits a team that had a number of seniors graduate from, but the remaining returners on the Knights roster still want to erase last year's disappointing ending. Tyse and Streeter are the only returners with more than 12 varsity plate appearances, meaning the group will need to mature quickly.
Coach: Blaine Shirley (First season)
Last year: 6-13 overall; 3-11 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters : Dalton Nelson (Sr., 1B/3B/P); Evan Prestwich (Sr., P/1B/OF); Mario Ramirez (Sr., OF); Bryce Shirley (Jr., INF/P); Justin Smith (Sr., C);.
Others to watch: Tyler Couser (Sr., OF); Jake Frenzel (Jr., OF); Jon Frenzel (Sr., P/INF); Cooper Lyndhardt (Sr., 1B/3B/P).
Outlook: The Warriors just haven't been able to get over the hump, typically winning seven to nine games a year the past decade. Shirley hopes to change that and he'll do so by getting back to basics. The team needs a couple strike-throwers, as issuing walks was a big problem last year. Nelson will anchor the lineup.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Eric Nakayama (Third season)
Last year: 12-7 overall; 9-4 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters : Jon Coufal (Jr., OF); Paul Elliott (Sr., OF); Jake Karty (Sr., INF); Kennedy Phillips (Sr., C/P).
Others to watch: Griffin Heller (Sr., P); Cameron Miller (Jr., P/OF); Andy Nelson (Sr., INF).
Outlook: With three recent state championships in the sport, the tradition carries on at HF, but Nakayama acknowledged chemistry will need to develop with this team of newer faces. That said, the Tigers are expected not to rely exclusively on seniors, and there could even be a freshman or sophomore ready to carry the team to greatness.
Coach: Ron Naylor (Fourth season)
Last year: 6-13 overall; 3-9 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters : Brendan Arellano (Sr., C); Dalton Cook (Sr., INF); Tyler Gray (Sr., UTIL/P); James Hare (Sr., (P/INF); Casey Lindholm (Jr., (C/P/INF); John Mahoney (Sr., UTIL); Terry Strauber (Jr., P/OF).
Others to watch: Grant Anderson (Fr., OF/3B/P).
Outlook: The Jaguars will be looking for their first 10-win season since 2010, and Naylor is stoked about the experience of his team coming back. Strauber had a great junior season with 26 RBI, and he'll be seen in the middle of the lineup once again. The Jags need to find an ace pitcher.
Coach: Ty Giordano (Eighth season)
Last year: 9-10 overall; 6-6 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters : Josh Chamberlain (Jr., P/3B); Jordan Luthi (Sr., P/SS/OF); Braden O'Connor (Jr., OF); Ryan Overboe (So., 1B/OF/P); Paul Thompson (Sr., 3B/C).
Others to watch: Dario DeSantis (Sr., C); Grant Hall (So., P); Ryker McDaniel (Sr., P/2B).
Outlook: From an age standpoint the Lightning are good to go, but there is some inexperience at the varsity level to deal with in several areas for Giordano, including the backstop position where he hasn't had to worry about the opposing team's running game for awhile. O'Connor comes back as one of the leading hitters and Luthi should provide steady pitching. Overall pitching depth is good.
Coach: Tom Fobes (17th season)
Last year: 14-6 overall; 10-4 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters : Kavan Andrew (Sr., SS); Noah Befus (So., OF/P); Austin Hassler (So., C/P); Miguel Moroyoqui (Sr., RF/P); Mason Peterson (Sr., 2B/C); Dagin Renck (Jr., P/LF); Cooper Rothe (Sr., CF); Ryan Rulon (Sr., P/1B/OF); Matt Zamudio (So., 3B/2B).
Others to watch: Reece Cardenas (Sr., P); Hunter Merlo (Sr., P); Andrew Voydat (Sr., INF).
Outlook: The Trojans senior class is stellar, and many of them who have excelled in other sports will converge on the diamond making LHS a competitive force once again. Voydat transferred from Silver Creek and could add depth to the infield, but the outfield is as good as it gets.
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
Coach: Carl Christensen (First season)
Last year: Did not field a team last season.
Returning starters : None.
Others to watch: Jalen Dittman (Jr., P).
Outlook: Christensen has 14 players out for the team, many of them pretty new to the game but looking to have some fun. Building fundamental skills is the goal for the younger players who might be back in future years, and they'll get the chance to play a 9-game varsity/junior-varsity schedule this year.
Coach: Ken Rosales (Fifth season)
Last year: 10-9 overall; 4-3 Class 2A District 4
Returning starters : Dawson Kelly (Jr., P/INF); Justin Lear (So., OF/P); Ethan Melani (Sr., C/INF); Brandon Sanders (So., P/INF); Maxx Schultz (So., P/INF); Brennan Simmering (Sr., C/INF); Kiefer Wanade (Sr., P/OF).
Others to watch: Rosales pointed to the freshmen class as a whole for possible contributions.
Outlook: The Lions have a solid base to work with from a good but not great team last year, and Rosales said team chemistry will be paramount to the success of the squad. The bats throughout the lineup need to improve on a sub-.300 team average, but Kelly is one who could have a breakout season.
Coach: Greg Brock (First season)
Last year: 10-9 overall; 7-7 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters : Easton Adler (Sr., INF); Luke Levine (Sr., OF/1B), Tyler Levine (Sr., C/INF); Gunner Pickett (Sr., P/OF/1B).
Others to watch: AJ Bartel (Sr., P/INF); Riley Glynn (Jr., P/OF); Scott Martenson (Sr., OF/P); Matt Regan (Jr., INF); Jake Skrine (Jr., C/3B).
Outlook: Brock, jumping back in the high school scene after a few years off, is a commodity the Mavericks should not take for granted, and Mead is coming off its most successful season so far. Pickett has shown good control on the hill and could be a needed ace, and Adler and Luke Levine have speed on the basepaths that Brock will surely utilize.
Coach: Scott Weiss (Fifth season)
Last year: 16-5-1 overall; 9-3 Class 5A Front Range League
Returning starters : Dan Boehmler (Sr., C); Gus Light (Jr., SS); Zach Sattler (Sr., 3B); Michael Trenka (Sr., 1B).
Others to watch: Zack Berohn (Sr., RF/P); Matt Hoban (Jr., P); Mitch Trenka (Jr., 1B/P).
Outlook: It will be fun to watch the MoHi infield, which Weiss feels is a sure strength of the team that will get tested with fewer power pitchers than last year. There also seems to be a lot of consistency through the lineup, led by Boehmler and Sattler. Berohn could be a great No. 3 hitter and will pitch a bit, as well.
Coach: Craig McBride (Seventh season)
Last year: 3-16 overall; 3-11 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters : Romey Clement (Sr., OF); Christian Cloar (Sr., 1B); Ford Ladd (Sr., P/1B); Tyler Meek (Sr., P/C/3B); Sky Messinger (Jr., P/SS); Jake Sims (Jr., OF); Joe Wilson (Sr., P/INF).
Others to watch: Michael Agado (Sr., OF); Trevor Green (Jr., P/OF); Tariq Maherra (So., OF/C); Zach Morgan (Sr., P/OF); Hunter Stephens (Jr., P/3B).
Outlook: A .228 team batting average last year included Ladd's .404 clip — that's all you need to know about the Cougars 2015 campaign. It was rough, but Niwot may be back on the rise because of the experience gained. The stable of arms has grown with Ladd embodying an innings-eater. and McBride said there is better speed overall, too.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Derek Urban (Second season)
Last year: 16-8 overall; 9-3 Class 3A Metro League
Returning starters : Matthew Bagnato (So., INF); Alex Bradfield (Jr., CF); Blake Bride (Sr., INF/P); Zach Feigelson (Jr., P/LF); Tommy Schriver (Jr., P/RF); Brayden Weyer (Jr., 1B/P).
Others to watch: Brandon Alvarez (So., OF); Max Higdon (Fr., OF); Mitchell Kerr (Jr., C).
Outlook: The Pumas are excited to attempt a run similar to last year's, and many of the same stellar players will be in key roles again. The team plastered the baseball all season, and defensively the play up the middle should be great with Bride, Bagnato and Bradfield in charge. Pitching is unproven and will be a joint effort.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Mike Apodaca (Second season)
Last year: 10-9 overall; 8-6 Class 4A Northern League
Returning starters : George Ramirez (Jr., OF); Cason Winn (Sr., C); Cole Winn (So., 2B/P); Austin Wood (Sr., P/1B).
Others to watch: Cole Borrego (So., OF); Max Browne (Jr., 1B); Sam Elting (Jr., OF); Nick Hartman (Sr., 3B); Nick Metcalf (Sr., SS).
Outlook: The Raptors are short on experience but have two pitchers who could really settle the team down with another year under their belt. Apodaca also feels his guys are in the right places defensively, meaning that improving the offense is an area of emphasis after producing a .277 team batting average last year. The group has played together a lot and are ready to peak at the end of the season.
Coach: Travis Schlagel (First season)
Last year: 10-8 overall; 6-7 Class 4A Tri-Valley League
Returning starters : Nick Hamby (So., 1B/3B); Nate Higgins (Jr., P/OF).
Others to watch: Ben Alexander (Sr., OF); Jonah Chrisman (Jr., OF/P); Chris Seger (Sr., P); Daniel Terao (Sr., OF/P); Caleb Zietlow (Jr., C/P).
Outlook: Schlagel has loved the inner competition the young group he is working with has brought to the table, and with just two returning starters there are positions up for grabs. Higgins was the top innings guy for the team on the hill and will begin the year in a similar position. Overall the team should be able to generate more extra-base hits, too.
*Note: Losasso was unintentionally left off of Thursday's original article.