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League and team outlook

Class 5A
Front Range League
Teams and trends: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Loveland, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre, Rocky Mountain. The race for the league crown had been a tight one in both 2018 and 2019. In 2019, Horizon, Rocky Mountain and Legacy finished atop the league with three losses apiece. And the year before, Monarch, Legacy and Rocky Mountain led the league standings at 9-3.

Boulder Panthers
Coach: Jack Taylor
The Scorecard: The Panthers went 15-9 in 2019 … all before their 2020 season went by the wayside along with the rest of the baseball community due to the surging pandemic. Two years since their last game, they’ll return senior center fielder Jackson Woolwine, who hit .396 as a sophomore with 11 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Also back are junior catcher Adrien Armstrong and senior pitcher Dylan Pyle. “We look forward to getting them back out on the field after missing a whole year of baseball,” Taylor said. “The Panthers will be young this year with only five seniors and relying on many underclassmen to compete and win some ball games.” Others to look out for include junior shortstop Ryan Sunderland, junior first baseman Derek Woolwine, junior outfielder/pitcher Cooper Conroy and sophomore pitcher Danny Balderas-Lujan.

Broomfield Eagles
Coach: Garren Estes
The Scorecard: Broomfield returns six starters following the sports’ bummer-deal, two-year layoff. Junior catcher Camden Ross is among those to watch as numerous prospect outlets have him among Colorado’s top prospects in the 2022 class. Ross played varsity as a freshman for the Eagles. Meanwhile, junior Garrett Klein and senior Tommy Valdes return to the mound after they combined to make 13 appearances on the bump in 2019. Estes said other starters coming back include senior infielder Devon de Vera, senior outfielder Aaron Brakel and senior utilityman Justin Spencer. Estes, in his 22nd year as coach, said the team’s goal is to compete at a high level in league and make one of the 24 regional postseason spots. The Eagles went 11-12 in 2019.

Fairview Knights
Coach: David Castillo
The Scorecard: The Knights will be led by four Division-I guys this spring. Senior catcher JD Jones will be headed to the University of Miami, senior pitcher Greysen Carter to Vanderbilt, senior outfielder Adam Moser to the University of Oklahoma and junior infielder Gabe Springer is committed to Stanford. Look for Carter to be among the top pitchers in the state after he had a 2.72 ERA in 38 2/3 innings as a sophomore. Castillo said his team brings back 10 starters overall, nine of them seniors. Other returners include seniors 1B/OF/P Dillon Souvignier, OF/INF Luke Silverman, INF/P Travis Rasmussen, INF/P Marcus Orlando, 1B/P Finley Daecher and pitcher Adam Hoechstetter. The Knights, after going 8-15 in 2019, are looking to make the state playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Daily Camera file photo
Legacy’s Cale Claridge

Legacy Lightning
Coach: Ty Giordano
The Scorecard: The Lightning, hoping to again compete in the Front Range League, are backed by four returning starters. Macully Sehr is a senior shortstop/pitcher who owned an impressive 1.77 ERA over 27 2/3 innings pitched as a sophomore. That year, he also hit .345. Also back is senior 1B/P Cale Claridge, who had a 2.92 ERA in nine appearances and hit .351. He’s accompanied by junior 3B/P Kieran Gaffney, who hit .385 as a freshman, and junior outfielder Blake Roberts. Others to watch include sophomore Brandon Sanchez, senior Cole Walker, senior Trenton O’Connor and junior Landon Sehr. The Lightning were the only local team to reach the 5A state championship playoffs in 2019. They finished 15-12 and were tied atop the league standings with Rocky Mountain and Horizon.

Monarch Coyotes
Coach: Scott Weiss
The Scorecard: Weiss said Monarch has just one player with any varsity experience in senior Owen Trofino. He hit .333 in 15 at-bats in 2019. Elsewhere, it’ll be a clean start. Junior George Albrecht is expected carry the load as the team’s top starting pitcher, while Joe Muckle and Santiago Marquez should also see time on the mound. At shortstop, Row Tucker is believed to be an exciting freshman prospect, and he’ll be paired up the middle with second baseman Aidan Cauley. “A unique season to say the least,” Weiss said. “After missing a full year with this group of players — it is a bit of an unknown what to expect.” Adding, “this team will play hard and compete.” In 2019, the Coyotes went 11-12 and finished 7-5 in the FRL.

Class 5A/4A
Northern Colorado Athletic Conference
Teams and trends: Centaurus, Erie, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Holy Family, Longmont, Mead, Silver Creek, Skyline and Windsor. This is a new league with three local teams coming out of the former 4A Northern League and four coming from the former 4A/5A Tri-Valley League. Silver Creek or Longmont won at least a share of the Northern title from 2017-19. Windsor won at least a share of the Tri-Valley League title from 2016-19.

Centaurus Warriors
Coach: Douglas Kinney
The Scorecard: The Warriors return five starters from their 2019 team, which went 16-9 and narrowly missed the state postseason after losing to Holy Family in their regional finals. Senior catcher/infielder Eddie Zygowicz will return after he drove in 24 runs in 2019. Also back is senior INF/P Henry Ziegert, who hit .297 and had 17 RBIs in 64 at-bats as a sophomore, as well as senior outfielder Christian Amador. Other big returnees are senior INF/P David Jachimiak, who went 4-4 with a 4.94 ERA in a team-most 14 appearances on the mound, and senior INF/P Maximus Miles. Among others to watch include sophomore INF Brandon Korn, junior OF/P Nate Hirsh, sophomore INF/P Zeke Hirsh and junior OF/P Brendan Finnegan.

Erie Tigers
Coach: Mike Newton
The Scorecard: The Tigers won a game last season before it was upended by COVID-19. Newton’s crew returns two starters. Senior outfielder Benji Havener hit .444 and drove in 11 runs in 2019. Junior OF/1B Sam Stem played sparingly as a freshman in 2019 and had an on-base percentage of .375. “We are excited to get on the field and play some baseball,” Newton said. “We are a young squad experience-wise after graduating 13 seniors.” Adding, “The boys are ready to compete and take on the challenge.” Among others to watch include sophomore SS Holden Pantier, sophomore P/1B/3B Darian Burnett, senior 2B/SS Mason Boccia, sophomore P/OF Ethan Dillinger, sophomore P/OF Dillon Alcouffe, senior P/OF Trey Hollis, senior C/2B Kyler Adams and senior P/UTL Ben Mueller.

Holy Family Tigers
Coach: John Ray
The Scorecard: Izaak Siefken went 2-2 in nine appearances in 2019, touting a 3.09 ERA. He along with Blake Hammond should be a nice duo atop the Tigers’ pitching rotation. The only other starter back for Holy Family is touted outfielder Connor Cooney, who hit .314 with 17 runs scored as a sophomore in 2019. All three of those guys are committed to Division-I baseball programs with Siefken to Illinois, Hammond to Santa Clara and Cooney to Holy Cross. Among others to watch include Jared Delgado, Brennan Bennett, Jack Krueger, Andrew Syverson and Jacob Syverson. Holy Family went 22-7 in 2019 and won two games in the 4A state postseason before falling out of the bracket. Under Ray, the former Atlanta Braves draft pick who took over for Marc Cowell as coach last season, the Tigers were believed to be a strong contender in 2020 before the season was canceled.

Nick Yard, of Niwot, gets safely ...
Daily Camera file photo
Longmont’s Devon Nowells, left, and Niwot’s Nick Yard.

Longmont Trojans
Coach: Tom Fobes
The Scorecard: Fobes, entering his 22nd season as the head baseball coach at Longmont, returns a handful of starters as well as a big senior class. Shortstop Adam Benes showed promise in 2019, hitting .333 with 17 RBIs, four doubles and three triples. Pitcher/3B Devon Nowells hit .300 with a team-leading 26 RBIs. Other returners include P/OF Owen Kroeger, who hit .320 in 25 at-bats, second baseman Alec Northouse and outfielder Danny O’Brien. Fobes said the team also brings back John Vandiver, who is returning from injury. Said Fobes: “We have a lot of guys that have played some varsity ball over the last couple of years and would have seen significant time last year. We also have a lot of seniors this year and will lean on their leadership. Everyone will contribute to our team’s success.” Among others to watch include junior first baseman Danny Barker, junior INF Zander Dill, senior P/3B Owen Folse, senior catcher Jesus Fontes, OF/P Ben Kleiman, junior pitcher Herbie Mitchell, sophomore P/3B Jacob Moats, junior catcher Tristan Rangel and senior outfielder Connor Taylor. The Trojans went 17-8 in 2019.

Mead Mavericks
Coach: Joe McKenzie
The Scorecard: The Mavericks have no returning starters but are excited about their up-and-coming talent. Said second-year coach McKenzie, “Coming out of the pandemic, we are inexperienced at the varsity level, but have a good senior core in which to build our team around.” Adding, “We have a strong junior class that will fill the remaining spots on the roster along with some of our up-and-coming sophomores. This will be a year to continue to return to some sense of normalcy.” Among those to watch are senior second baseman Jayson Torbeck, senior 1B/DH Ryan Platt, senior P/1B Vincent Hale, senior P/3B Mark Long and senior pitcher Tyler Schliep. McKenzie took the head coaching role last season before the pandemic hit. The Mavericks went just 6-16 in 2019.

Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Brad Steward
The Scorecard: The last time the Raptors played a game, they fell 8-6 to Pueblo West for the Class 4A state title. Fast forward two years later, and things look far different. Steward’s roster returns no starters from that 2019 squad, losing 13 seniors to graduation last year. Said Steward: “This year we will look to those younger players to help us compete for a conference championship and hopefully make it back to the state tournament. This group has put in a lot of work in the offseason to prepare themselves for varsity-level baseball.” Among the new guys to watch are senior pitcher Milo Auslander-Padgham, senior infielder Nathan Churchich and junior catcher John Sekich. In 2019, Silver Creek went undefeated in the 4A Northern League and finished 27-4.

Skyline Falcons
Coach: Travis Schlagel
The Scorecard: Skyline is senior-heavy in 2021 and returns a few starters. Senior outfielder Grayden Bridwell hit .328 in 2019, driving in nine runs with 23 runs scored in 64 at-bats. Senior P/OF/1B Lucas Hart made nine appearances on the mound, posting a 4.69 ERA. Senior INF/P Patrick Chavez drove in eight runs on a .232 batting average. Said Schlagel: “These kids are itching and excited to get back out on the field and compete. After not having a season last year, we are looking forward to having lots of fun and getting better as players and people.” Among others to watch include senior 3B/P Lucas Scott, senior catcher Alejandro Gutierrez, senior outfielder Nolan Helmstetter, senior P/1B Joel Hesse, senior P/UTL Jackson Canar, senior 2B/SS Aidan Riddoch and senior outfielder Matt Chrisman. The Falcons went 7-15 in 2019.

Class 4A/3A
Longs Peak League
Teams and trends:  Berthoud, Fort Morgan, Frederick, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Riverdale Ridge, Roosevelt, Severance, Thompson Valley. Comprising the new league, Frederick comes out of the former 4A/5A Tri-Valley League and Niwot from the 4A Northern.

Frederick Warriors
Coach: Colin York
The Scorecard: York takes over for Nathan Howell as the new coach of Frederick, which went 4-19 in 2019 before winning its one and only game last spring. Senior P/INF Chase Prestwich is a touted prospect and is committed to Northwestern State in Louisiana. Also returning is junior P/INF Brendan Gochanour, junior P/INF Brayden Johnson and sophomore catcher Cruz Zamudio.  “We have an extremely talented group of student-athletes in all phases of the game,” York said. “Everyone has been hungry to compete ever since last year’s home opener win. I’m expecting us to compete in our conference and break the streak of four or less wins in the last five years.” Among others to watch include senior P/UTL Brayden Berringer, senior P/OF Hayden Borton, senior P/INF Payton Buffington, junior P/INF Talon Boen, junior P/OF Bryce Conover and junior P/UTL Tommy Smith.

Niwot Cougars
Coach: Adam Strah
The Scorecard: Niwot enters the season with nine seniors on roster, Strah said, “so the program will look to their leadership and experience throughout the year.” Junior pitcher/outfielder Nicolas Yard hit .302 as a freshman, driving in a team-high 11 runs. He also made eight appearances on the mound, posting a 4.20 ERA in 35 innings pitched. Senior P/OF Micah Sheats also returns after going 3-6 on the mound in 2019. Sheats hit .295 with nine RBIs, seven doubles and three triples. Other returners include senior infielder Mason Nieberger and senior P/INF Dylan Olson. Look out for senior P/OF Hayden Morford and junior P/OF Jack Brooker to have major contributions as well. Niwot finished 4-19 in 2019 and didn’t win a game in the 4A Northern League.

Class 3A
Metro League
Teams and trends: Bishop Machebeuf, Colorado Academy, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver, Lutheran, Manual, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge Academy and SkyView Academy. Peak to Peak won the title in 2019, ending a dominant stretch by Faith Christian, which had won it in eight of the previous nine seasons.

Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coach: Eugene Carbajal
The Scorecard: The Jags are very young under Carbajal, with just two seniors and three juniors on roster. Senior P/OF Andrew Baker returns after hitting .321 with six RBIs in 2019. He also made seven appearances on the mound. Also back is junior C/P Justus Vigil, who had eight hits in 2019, and junior P/OF Trevor Sengdara, who has just three varsity at-bats per MaxPreps. In 2019, the Jags went 13-9, finished fifth in league and narrowly missed the postseason after bowing out to Eaton in their regional final. Jefferson Academy has won double-digit games from 2017-19.

Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Matthew Castilleja
The Scorecard: The Pumas will look quite a bit different from the team that went 17-6 and won the league title in 2019. “We lost six seniors last year, but we have great senior leadership starting with Riley Feddema,” Castilleja said. “Our junior class is also very strong. Both of our upper classes will help the development of our younger classes that are hungry to continue the success of our program.” Feddema is a pitcher and shortstop who hit .418 as a sophomore with 19 RBIs and a home run. He threw 11 innings on the mound, which should only rise in total this season. Other returning starters include senior outfielders Sam Custard and Mason Rein. The Pumas lost their first game last spring before the rest of their slate was canceled. The program has totaled at least 14 wins every season since 2015.

Prospect Ridge Academy Miners
Coach: Mark Knudson
The Scorecard: Prospect Ridge finished 12-11 in 2019, a dramatic leap up for a program that won just seven games through its first two years at varsity. This year, the Miners return six starters. Senior OF/P Justin Huffman drove in 16 runs in 2019, while senior OF/C Matt Lemberger hit .577 in 26-at bats, driving in 10. Lemberger also posted a 3.50 ERA in six innings pitched. Also back is junior catcher Rocco Cassano, who brought in 10 runs on a .423 batting average. Up the middle, the Miners return senior shortstop Nick Farel and senior second baseman Tennyson Young. Junior outfielder Tyler Beveridge is also back, while senior SS/CF Alex Rodriguez will an interesting prospect to monitor.

Class 2A/1A
Mile High League
Teams and trends: Clear Creek, Dawson, Dayspring Christian Academy, Denver Academy, Denver Christian, Estes Park, Front Range Christian, Gilpin County, Highland, Lyons. Longmont Christian reported that it will not carry a varsity baseball team this season. From 2016-19, the league had at least one team reach the Round of Eight in the state baseball tournament. Dawson won the league title in 2019 and reached the state quarterfinals.

Dawson Mustangs
Coach: Pete Chandler
The Scorecard: The Mustangs are up from nine players to 21 this season. Chandler said his team is full of multi-sport athletes and “is an interesting mix of experienced and inexperienced players.” Conor Wolf is an exciting pitching prospect. As a freshman in 2019, Wolf went 7-2 with an ERA of 0.76. He struck out 59 in 46 1/3 innings. Other returning starters include senior C/P/INF Tommy Noonan, senior C/INF James Commons and sophomore infielder Ashtin Gilio. A few others to watch include freshman C/P/INF Wade Hartrick, senior INF/OF Danny Gonzalez-Hyde and freshman pitcher Charlie Heathwood. In 2019, the Mustangs went 15-7. Their last state title, and the last among area teams as a whole, came in 2016.

Lyons Lions
Coach: Kale Olson
The Scorecard: The Lions enter the season with new coaches Kale Olson and Daniel Terao, as well as a plethora of returning starters. Senior 1B/P Ryan Schechter hit .306 in 2019 and drove in a team-high 16 runs. Senior SS/P Rafael Ruiz Jr. hit .341 and brought home 14. Other returning starters include junior P/OF Adam Brookes, senior outfielder Caleb Hoffman, senior P/OF Evan Moore, senior OF/P Bode Shiver, senior 2B/SS Sean Stevelinck, senior 2B/SS Joel Uecker and senior third baseman Dustin Willis. “With a strong senior class, exciting underclassmen, and a new coaching staff, anything is possible for this group,” Olson said. “They have been working diligently and have quickly built a culture of progress, ownership, and accountability.” The Lyons also have an exciting prospect in freshman P/OF Wyatt Waters.

Bringing it home: recent state champions

2020 — No champions crowned (COVID-19 pandemic season cancellation)
2019 — Regis Jesuit (5A), Pueblo West (4A), University (3A), Peyton (2A), Cornerstone Christian (1A)
2018 — Mountain Vista (5A), Valor Christian (4A), University (3A), Paonia (2A), Caliche (1A)
2017 — Rocky Mountain (5A), Valor Christian (4A), Valley (3A), Paonia (2A), Nucla (1A)
2016 — Cherokee Trail (5A), Valor Christian (4A), Faith Christian (3A), Dawson (2A), Holly (1A)
2015 — Rock Canyon (5A), Green Mountain (4A), Eaton (3A), Rye (2A), Dove Creek (1A)

Point me to the postseason

Regular season play determines league champions and RPI for the purposes of postseason seeding. Regionals are made up of 24 total teams in 5A, 4A, 3A. The champions of each of the eight regions will go into a double-elimination state tournament (June 14 regionals, June 18-26 state tournament). The state title games for those classifications are June 25-26. Class 1A’s regionals will be made up of 12 teams. The winners of each of the four regionals will play in the Final Four June 23. Class 2A’s regionals will be made up of 24 teams like 5A, 4A and 3A. However, the eight regional winners go into a single-elimination tournament June 19-26. All information is listed on CHSAA’s baseball bulletin.

Daily Camera file photo
Skyline will once again turn to Joel Hesse to eat up some innings this season.