Matthew Jonas / Times-Call
MARK LEFFINGWELL / Daily Camera
PLAYERS TO KNOW
Austin Brown, Sr., Holy Family: The tall left-hander went 6-0 with a 1.63 ERA last season, including a three-hitter in a 3A title-clinching win against Eaton.
Wyatt Cross, Sr., Legacy: He’ll be in Carolina blue before too long, but the future Tar Heel has one more season of gunning down would-be basestealers in Colorado.
Justin Forsyth, Sr., Skyline: The multi-sport athlete might be best suited on the diamond. He batted .429 last season in the Falcons’ breakout spring and has been a dependable outfielder.
Ford Ladd, Jr., Niwot: The crafty left-hander went 7-1 as a sophomore and will be a part of one of 4A’s finest top-of-the-rotation duos with righty Nick Elrod.
Kyle Leahy, Sr., Erie: The future Colorado Mesa Maverick threw a perfect game in his final start last season. In addition to his role as ace, he’ll help the Tigers as a solid-hitting corner infielder.
Ryan Madden, Sr., Fairview: A hard-throwing, quick-working right-hander who attacks opposing lineups with a direct approach. Also has proven he can hammer 5A pitching from the middle of the lineup.
Cooper Rothe, Jr., Longmont: A phenomenal athlete who cracked a veteran-laden lineup as a sophomore last season and batted .315. He’s one of the area’s finest center fielders.
Tim Ryan, Sr., Fairview: The slugger makes for a devastating outfield duo with Walker Harris, a group that combined for 31 extra-base hits last season, including 12 homers.
Logan Soole, Sr., Monarch: The left-hander has signed with Southern Illinois and, in addition to being one of the finest aces in the area, is one of the Coyotes’ top hitters.
Eric Worley, Sr., Frederick: The smooth-fielding shortstop is one of the Tri-Valley League’s most consistent hitters and adds occasional pop. A .400-plus season isn’t out of the question.
May 9: District tournaments (5A, 4A, 3A); 1A regional tournament.
May 14: 1A championship game.
May 15-16: Opening rounds of double-elimination state tournament (5A, 4A and 3A); 2A regional tournament.
May 22-23: Championship weekend of double-elimination state tournament (5A, 4A and 3A). 2A championship game on May 23.
Coach: Colt Sedbrook (second year)
Last year: 8-11
Returning starters: Ari Barnett, Sr., IF; Tommy Baumgartner, Sr., IF; Cameron Burke, Jr., OF; Wyatt Linde (Sr., OF/P); Andrew McCarthy (Jr., IF); Grant Rogers (Sr., P); Kelby Woodard (Sr., OF).
Others to watch: Aiden Chandler (So., IF/OF); Henry Ryan (So., IF); Adam Stowe (So., OF); Dana Sullivan (So., OF).
Outlook: The Panthers got a jump on much of the snowbound local competition last week by taking a trip to the Grand Junction area for scrimmages against some of the Mesa County schools. Sedbrook is keenly focused on brining Boulder back to an annual contender and has a nice mix of holdovers and newcomers on this spring’s roster.
Coach: Garren Estes (12th year)
Last year: 10-11 (lost to Longmont in second round of 4A playoffs)
Returning starters: Carlos Amador (Sr., IF/P); Caleb Cox (Sr., C); Alex Eskridge (Sr., IF); Eddie Flores (Jr., P/OF).
Others to watch: Angelo Alvarado (Jr., IF); Nick Carter (Jr., IF); Walter Pennington (Jr., IF/OF).
Outlook: Despite and up-and-down season last spring, the Eagles nearly sneaked into the Championship Series before falling to Longmont 4-3 in nine innings. Translation: The 2012 state champs will always compete, and this year figures to be no different even though there are many positions to replace.
Coach: Aaron Allen (fourth year)
Last year: 3-16
Returning starters: Justin Angevine (Sr., C); Eric Gambon (So., 1B); Balin Jessip (So., IF/P); Brody Jones (Sr., P); Brandon Larson (Jr., OF); Anthony LoSasso (So., OF/2B); Izzy Miles (Sr., IF); David Neitenbach (Sr., OF); Max Weber (Sr., P).
Others to watch: Raven Chacon (Sr., OF); Nick Inslee (Sr., IF); Joe Milano (So., U).
Outlook: The Warriors will have three contributors back to full strength this season in Neitenbach (who was relegated to DH duty last year), Angevine, and Inslee. The latter missed the entire season due to a basketball-related knee injury. The Warriors appear to be a vastly improved group.
Coach: Joe McKenzie (second year)
Last year: 7-12 (lost to Resurrection Christian in first round of 2A districts)
Returning starters: Liam Angus (Sr., IF/P); Jake Blank (Sr., P/OF); Edgar Chevarria (Jr., OF); Seth Clemente (So., IF); Hayden Dodge (Sr., IF); Tanner Fulkerson (Jr., IF/P); Max McClellan (Jr., C); Chris Slade (Jr., OF/P); Zach Sommerville (Jr., IF).
Others to watch: Michael Nannen (Jr., P/1B).
Outlook: The Mustangs have a solid middle of the order and a deep pitching staff by 2A standards. McClellan led the squad with a .476 batting average last season and headlines a hefty group of returning players who began to gain cohesion last spring. The left-handed Nannen will be a key member of the pitching staff after having his season scrapped last year due to injury.
Coach: Harold Simmons (seventh year)
Last year: 12-8 (lost to Palmer Ridge in first round of 4A playoffs)
Returning starters: Zane Begano (Sr., P/IF); B.J. Jensen (Sr., CF); Josh Crites (Jr., SS); Kyle Leahy (Sr., P/IF); Nic Ogimachi (Sr., C).
Others to watch: Clint Allen (Jr., IF).
Outlook: The Tigers return five starters, including the talented Leahy. The right-hander recently signed with Colorado Mesa, the Division-II national runner-up last season. The order features balance, led by the fleet Jensen at the top. Allen, a transfer from Fort Lupton, must sit out the first half of the season.
Coach: Rick Harig (23rd year)
Last year: 20-3 (eliminated by Regis Jesuit in second round of 5A Championship Series)
Returning starters: Johnny Feauto (Sr., IF/P); Walker Harris (Sr., OF/C); Ryan Madden (Sr., P/IF); Tim Ryan (Sr., OF); Jake Thoning (Sr., IF).
Others to watch: Steve D’Epagnier (Sr., 1B); Tobiah Armstrong (Sr., 2B/OF).
Outlook: After perhaps their finest season in a decade, the Knights remain loaded with the hard-hitting Ryan and Harris, the multi-talented Madden and others. MaxPreps has bestowed the Knights No. 2 in its preseason Colorado Fab 5. Slugger Steve D’Epagnier returns after being shelved by injury for most of last season.
Coach: Ted Clapp (11th year)
Last year: 11-8
Returning starters: Matt Entrekin (Sr., OF/P); Lane Hiser (Sr., IF/P); Trystin Montano (Sr., IF); Eric Worley (Sr., IF); Brandon Zuniga (Sr., IF/P).
Others to watch: Cameron Muncy (Sr., OF); Dalton Nelson (Jr., C/P); Evan Prestwich (Jr., P); Justin Smith (Jr., C/P); Spencer Truitt (Jr., OF).
Outlook: The Warriors narrowly missed the postseason last year and are determined not to let it happen again. The five returning starters, all seniors, create a nice mix with the onslaught of newcomers and former part-time players who are elevating to expanded roles. Eric Worley is the leading returning hitter after posting a .375 average last season.
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
Coach: Eric Nakayama (second year)
Last year: 24-1 (won Class 3A state championship)
Returning starters: Austin Brown (Sr., P/1B); Alex Comeaux (Sr., IF); Nick Kreutzer (Sr., P/1B); Kennedy Phillips (Jr., C/IF).
Others to watch: Xavier Chavez (Sr., P/OF); John Coufal (So., U); Jake Karty (Jr., IF); Cameron Miller (So., C/P).
Outlook: After winning successive 3A titles, it’s off to 4A for the Tigers. If their fall and winter sports are indication, the Tigers won’t need much of a learning curve in the higher classification. That being said, replacing 11 seniors (eight starters) would be tough for any squad, so it will be interesting to see how the Tigers handle the transition.
JEFFERSON ACADEMY JAGUARS
Coach: Ron Naylor (third year)
Last year: 5-13
Returning starters: Brendan Arellano (Jr., C/IF); Jake Barlow (Sr., IF/P); Dalton Cook (Jr., IF); Tyler Gray (Jr., OF/P); Brandon Fitzpatrick (Sr., P/IF); Casey Lindholm (So., IF); Dillon Lindholm (Sr., P/IF).
Others to watch: Dustin Carpenter (Sr., IF); Sean Hancock (Jr., OF); James Hare (So., P); John Mahoney (Jr., IF); Daniel Moriarity (So., P); Terry Strauber (So., P/OF); Taylor Teets (Sr., OF).
Outlook: With many experienced players back in the fold and a solid influx of newcomers, the Jaguars fully expect to climb the ladder in the 3A Metro League and compete. While they took their lumps last season, the outlook is positive and the Jags believe they can make some immediate headway.
Coach: Ty Giordano (seventh year)
Last year: 11-9 (lost to Columbine in first round of 5A playoffs)
Returning starters: Matt Ayala (Sr., SS); Jared Crockett (Sr., OF/P); Wyatt Cross (Sr., C); Jordan Luthi (Jr., CF).
Others to watch: Nick Griffey (Sr., P); Grant Kauvar (Sr., 2B); Paul Thompson (Jr., 3B).
Outlook: After one Division-I player graduated last season (pitcher Lucas Gilbreath, now at Minnesota), the Lightning have another in the North Carolina-bound Cross. Otherwise, many new faces will align the lineup. “We have some nice pieces, but we’re not like some of the schools that have seven or eight seniors returning,” Giordano said. “We’ll be young, but the young players are athletic and already have a good work ethic.”
Coach: Tom Fobes (16th year)
Last year: 17-9 (eliminated by Niwot in semifinals of 4A Championship Series)
Returning starters: Kavan Andrew (Jr., IF); Easton Cacala (So, 1B); Mason Peterson (Jr., 2B/C); Cooper Rothe (Jr., CF).
Others to watch: Barrett Ingvaldsen (Sr., P/3B); Nick Madrid (Sr., P/OF); Miguel Moroyoqui (Jr., P/OF); Avery Peterson (Fr., IF); Dagin Renck (So., P/OF); Ryan Rulon (Jr., OF/P).
Outlook: The depth of the Trojans program will be tested this season after graduating both primary starting pitchers and five starting position players. But some talent was waiting in the wings, and Longmont again should be a factor in the Northern League a year after advancing to the 4A final four.
Coach: Kenneth Rosales (third year)
Last year: 10-11 (lost to Swink in first round of 2A state tournament)
Returning starters: Justin Gorman (Sr., IF); Bowe Herman (Sr., C); Karson Kelly (Sr., P); Austin Myers (Sr., OF); Hector Rodriguez (Sr., IF).
Others to watch: Dawson Kelly (So., IF); Ethan Melani (Jr., C/1B); Maxx Schlutz (Fr., U).
Outlook: The Lions cracked the round-of-16 last season after going 2-14 in 2013. Things are on the upswing with the program, and Rodriguez, Kelly and Herman all hit above .400 last spring. Herman and Kelly also were the primary pitchers last season, so the Lions appear to be in good shape despite a few key graduation losses.
Coach: Wes Sells (second year)
Last year: 7-12
Returning starters: Easton Adler (Jr., IF); Dillon Buckendorf (Sr., CF); Tyler Levine (Jr., C); Gunner Pickett (Jr., P/1B); Adam Weis (Sr. IF/OF).
Others to watch: AJ Bartel (Jr., P/IF); Scott Martenson (Jr., OF/P); JP Trott (Jr., P/C).
Outlook: The Mavericks are coming off a productive summer and believe they can make a run at cracking the 4A playoff bracket. Although a handful of key seniors graduated, Sells has an enthusiastic group eager to start making the Mavericks a year-in, year-out factor in the classification.
Coach: Scott Weiss (fourth year)
Last year: 8-12 (lost to Cherry Creek in first round of 5A playoffs)
Returning starters: Zach Sattler (Sr., 3B/OF); Kyle Scholtz (Sr., IF); Logan Soole (Sr., P/OF).
Others to watch: Zack Berohn (Jr., 3B/P); Jason Jacobs (Sr., OF); Gus Light (So., IF); Blake Rohm (So., P); Jacob Stockebrand (Sr., 1B/P).
Outlook: Priority No. 1 for the Coyotes is to expunge the defensive demons that plagued them last season and keep unearned runs to a minimum. Next is to assimilate the onslaught of youngsters with the talented holdovers, in hopes the group meshes in time to be a factor in the 5A Front Range League.
Coach: Craig McBride (sixth year)
Last year: 21-5 (lost to Green Mountain in 4A championship game)
Returning starters: Nick Elrod (Sr., P/1B); Ford Ladd (Jr., P/1B); Skyler Messinger (So., SS).
Others to watch: Hayden Klibbe (So., C); Tyler Meek (So., P/3B); Joey Plunkett (Sr., OF); Hunter Stephens (So., 3B).
Outlook: Nine seniors are gone from last season’s state runner-up squad, but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare. Pitchers Ford Ladd and Nick Elrod went a combined 10-1 last season, and the Cougars will lean heavily on their arms while their youthful lineup attempts to establish itself on the fly.
PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS
Coach: Derek Urban (first year)
Last year: 10-10 (lost to Platte Valley in first round of 3A playoffs)
Returning starters: Blake Bride (Jr., IF); Alex Bradfield (So., OF); Seth Bussinger (Sr. P/1B); Zachery Feigelson (So., OF); Nick Kakavas (Sr., P); James Walther (Sr., C); Mitchell Ward (Sr., SS/P).
Others to watch: Matt Bagnato (Fr., U); Michael Carrannante (Sr., U); Ben Pinkerman (Sr., U); Tommy Shriver (So., 3B/P); Baylor Weyer (Fr., P/Util); Brayden Weyer (So., P/IF).
Outlook: Urban took over less than a month before the season when job constraints forced longtime coach Tim Combs to resign. He will inherit a roster that has plenty of returning contributors, including Ward (.452 average, 25 RBIs last season), Bussinger, Bradfield and Bride.
SILVER CREEK RAPTORS
Coach: Mike Apodaca (first year)
Last year: 6-13
Returning starters: Zach Brown (Sr., OF/P); Elijah Larimore (Sr., OF/P); Capper Newton (Sr., SS/P); Austin Wood (Jr., 1B/P).
Others to watch: Colt Olinger (Sr., C); Mitch Webster (Sr., 1B/P); Cason Winn (Jr., 3B/P); Andrew Voydat Jr., 2B.
Outlook: The Raptors will be under the guidance of Apodaca, most widely known as Silver Creek’s football coach, after longtime skipper Trevor Platt resigned. Newton is the leading returning hitter after batting .396 last season and Wood will look to build upon his 2-1 record and 3.82 ERA on the mound. The Raptors must replace nine departed seniors from last season’s roster.
Coach: Mike Hoog (10th year)
Last year: 13-8 (lost to Valor Christian in the second round of 4A playoffs)
Returning starters: Tyler Brenneman (Sr., 2B); Justin Forsyth (Sr., OF/P); Tyler Hamby (Sr., SS); Thomas Hoog (Sr., P/U); Andrew Stoops (Sr., P/3B).
Others to watch: Matt Bulow (Sr., C); Daniel Kalfas (Sr., IF/OF); Walter Nieuwlandt (Sr., C/OF).
Outlook: The Falcons’ cast of returning starters is a cohesive mix after playing much of the past four seasons together. Stoops returns this season after having his junior season wiped out by injury. The roster is composed of several athletes who play multiple positions, so Hoog will make sure to use a combination featuring the nine hottest bats.
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