Collins Hill Eagles
• Head Coach: Paul Pierce
• 2013 Record: 10-15, tied for fourth in Region 7-AAAAA
• Returning Starters: OF Austin Gonzales, Sr.; SS William Holland, Soph.; 1B Cole Zabowski, Soph.; 2B Matthew Vaca, Sr.
• Other key returners: LHP Mitch McCain, Jr.; C Trevor Powers, Jr.; C Chris Schwarzer, Jr.; LHP Michael Formont, Sr.; LHP Luis Delatorre, Sr.
• Key newcomers: IF Riley King, Soph.; P Monty Horn, Fr.; OF Al Delvillar, Soph.; OF Jared Meeks, Jr.
• Outlook: After missing out on a playoff berth by a tie-breaker a year ago, the Eagles are hopeful to go a step further and into the postseason this year. They’ll be quite young, with only a handful of seniors among the regular group, but Pierce his optimistic that they can grow up as the season progresses.
• Head Coach: Thomas LePage
• 2013 Record: 10-16, seventh in Region 7-AAAAAA
• Returning Starters: OF Ryan McClendon, Sr.; OF Darrian Graves, Sr.; RHP/IF Jose Ponce, Sr.
• Other key returners: P/1B Andrew Gamble, Sr.; SS/2B Eric Breaux, Sr.; 1B/DH Collier Knox, Sr.; RHP/IF Graham Parris, Soph.
• Key newcomers: OF/P Sam Weber, Sr.; SS/3B Trey Harris, Soph.; OF/P Kyle Yancey, Soph.; P/IF Alan Carter, Soph.
• Outlook: The Wildcats lost several close ball games in region play last season, but hope to turn things around to make a run at the postseason this year. McClendon and Ponce should be the keys in the batting order, and the Wildcats should be able to make things happen on the basepaths if they can reach base, with McClendon, Graves, Breaux and Harris all possessing outstanding speed. The biggest key will be if the right combination of arms can be found to bolster the pitching staff.
• Head Coach: Bond Crosby
• 2013 Record: 11-12-1 (non-region schedule)
• Returning Starters: RHP/SS Shea Wilkey, Sr.; C/1B Jonathan Arnold, Jr.; RHP/SS Austin Wilkey, Soph.; 1B/3B Brian GoCool, Sr.; DH DeAndre Smith, Jr.; CF Sidney Gault, Soph.
• Key newcomers: 3B/RHP Mason Bernard, Fr.
• Outlook: After posting the most wins in over a decade last season, the Mustangs return to full region play for the first time in several years with renewed hope and confidence. The task will still be a difficult one, but with the combination of experience led by the battery of Shea Wilkey and Arnold and youth and enthusiasm from sophomores Austin Wilkey and Gault, seem equipped to be able to hold their own.
Mountain View Bears
• Head Coach: Jason Johnson
• 2013 Record: 13-13, tied for fourth in Region 7-AAAAAA
• Returning Starters: 3B Ben Utley, Sr. (.253, 13 RBIs); RHP A.J. Moore, Sr. (3-4, 2.42 ERA, 75 K, 52 IP); 1B/SS Forrest Girardeau, Sr. (.246, 6 RBIs); C Brad Weaver, Jr. (.237, 9 RBIs); RHP/2B Matthew Hubbard, Sr. (.286); OF Josh Logan, Sr. (.289); 1B/OF Luis Vilchez, Jr. (.311); CF Cameron Hankins, Soph. (.324, .410 OBP)
•Other key returners: C Logan Irvine, Soph.; RHP/OF Crew Peery, Sr.
• Key newcomers: SS/OF Robert Kwiatkowski, Soph.; OF Zack Miller, Soph.; 3B Sam Freitas, Soph.; LHP Bailey Mixon, Jr.; RHP Brendan Munson, Soph.; RHP/IF Jack Utley, Soph.; C/OF Tyler Zak, Soph.
• Outlook: Several players from a line-up that had the Bears in a three-way tie for the region’s last playoff berth, only to lose out to Norcross on the tie-breaker. Seniors Ben Utley, Girardeau and Hubbard should be the cornerstone of that batting order. However, this year’s success may depend more on pitching, where Super Six right-hander Moore is the clear ace of a staff that is quite young, but filled with potential.
Mill Creek Hawks
• Head Coach: Doug Jones
• 2013 Record: 22-10, Region 7-AAAAAA champions, Second round of Class AAAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: SS/RHP Logan Moseley, Sr.; DH Austin Geist, Sr.; IF Kyle Abernathy, Sr.
• Other key returners: 3B Jacob Freeland, Jr.
• Key newcomers: OF Walker Boyd, Sr.; C Austin Parham, Sr.; OF Will Zimmer, Sr.; LHP Jack Fleming, Sr.; 1B Andrew Wise, Sr.
• Outlook: The loss of six starters from the batting order won’t be easy to replace, though having Georgia-bound Super Six shortstop Moseley to build around is a good place to start. The bigger concern may be trying to replace two of Gwinnett’s top starters the last two years in first-team All-County right-handers Cody Pugh and Shane Seckinger. Still, there is enough potential that has Jones optimistic the Hawks can be in the postseason mix if they can survive an absolutely brutal pre-region schedule.
Norcross Blue Devils
• Head Coach: Jonathan Wyman
• 2013 Record: 19-11, tied for fourth in Region 7-AAAAAA, second round of Class AAAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: 1B Jascanel Ferreras, Sr. (.319, 3 HR, 23 RBIs); C Griffin Helms, Sr. (.314, 2 HR, 11 RBIs, 20 R, 16 SB); 3B Andrew Lightle, Sr.; SS/RHP Trevor Craport, Sr. (.311, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, .446 OBP); OF/P Devin Geraghty, Sr.; OF Justin Henderson, Sr.; P Will Shirah, Sr.; 2B Yuuki Bomar, Jr.; P Brooks Buckler, Jr.; P Graeme Stinson, Soph.; P/1B Mike Perez, Jr.; P/OF Jordyn Thomas, Sr.
• Key newcomers: OF Jacob Gassert, Jr.; 3B/RHP Trey Nelson, Sr.; OF/C Griffin Barker, Jr.; SS Jack Ganter, Jr.; OF Kevin Kelly, Sr.; 2B/1B Danny Price, Jr.; 1B Emmanuel Long-Hesse, Jr.
• Outlook: The Blue Devils surprised by posting 19 wins for the first time in nearly a decade and advancing to the second round of the playoffs a year ago. They’re positioned to make another postseason run this year, and perhaps make a move at the region title, with a large group of returners in the everyday line-up, led by Division I college-bound seniors Ferreras (Georgia State), Helms (Kennesaw State) and Craport (Georgia Tech). And while All-County pitchers Joseph Wilber and Jackson Williams were lost to graduation, there are plenty of experienced arms ready to step into the rotation, led by Craport, Shirah and Buckler.
North Gwinnett Bulldogs
• Head Coach: Ryan Moity
• 2013 record: 15-13, third in Region 7-AAAAAA, first round, Class AAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: LHP Tucker Baca, Sr. (2-4, 2.96 ERA, 62 K, 49 2/3 IP); C Ben Carswell, Jr.; SS Alex Hartz, Jr.; 3B/RHP Blake Sangster, Jr; UT Devin Mitchell, Sr.
• Other key returners: OF Robert Pucciarello, Sr.; RHP Connor Darling, Soph.
• Key newcomers: C Randall Watson, Soph.; 1B Wesley Brooks, Soph.; IF Jack Stucke, Jr.; P Adam Corn, Jr.; OF Avery Kenyon, Jr.; OF Zach Tindol, Sr.
• Outlook: First-year coach Moity hopes to continue tradition the Bulldogs have established in making the state playoffs for the last eight consecutive seasons. They’ll have to do so this year without 14 seniors from last year’s squad, though a pitching staff led by Arizona State signee and Super Six lefty Baca, as well as the returning group of every day starters Carswell, Hartz, Sangster and Mitchell should make for some good building blocks.
Peachtree Ridge Lions
• Head Coach: Ryan Hanik
• 2013 Record: 19-12, Region 7-AAAAAA runner-up, second round of Class AAAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: OF/RHP Drew Wharton, Sr.; SS/RHP Steven Tomlinson, Sr.; IF Jared Steadman, Sr.; 1F/RHP Nick Neidert, Jr.; IF Cam Shepherd, Soph.; 1B Blake Best, Jr.
• Other key returners: OF Matt Trawick, Sr.; P Jordan Lee, Sr.; P Craig Williams, Sr.; C Nick Gatewood, Jr.; C Michael Swint, Sr.
• Outlook: The Lions will have plenty of experienced bats returning from last year’s region runner-up team, including Clemson-bound senior Wharton and South Carolina-committed junior Neidert. But the biggest task will be replacing all three region mound starters from last year, including Daily Post Pitcher of the Year Tyler Haswell — a task which will fall mainly to Neidert and seniors Lee and Williams. If they can find the right combination of arms, the Lions should be right in the mix to fight for their fourth straight postseason berth.
• Head Coach: Chris Hays
• 2013 Record: 8-18, seventh in Region 8-AAAAAA
• Returning Starters: 3B Curtis Terry, Jr. (.368, 5 HR, 16 RBIs, 18 R); C Gabe Tiller, Jr. (.243, 12 RBIs); LHP/OF Sean Fitzpatrick, Jr. (.351, 15 RBIs, 8 2B, 3-6, 4.98 ERA, 51 K); 1B Connor Redmond, Jr.; OF Jordan Waites, Sr. (.305, 5 RBIs, 16 R); P/OF Nathaniel Howard, Sr. (3-4, 4.74 ERA, 48 K); OF Bryan Whiting, Sr. (.381, 3 RBIs, 11 R)
• Other key returners: SS Dustin Ross, Sr.; P Jonathan Barnett, Jr.; P Jerry Vixamar, Sr.
• Key Newcomers: OF E.J. Ranel, Jr.; IF Austin Stone, Jr.; IF Reece Balon, Jr.; C Justin Barnett, Fr.; IF Crews Taylor, Fr.
• Outlook: The Tigers have never made the playoffs in their brief history, but hopes and expectations are high this season with what appears to be a strong combination of returning veterans and promising newcomers. Junior 3B Terry should be the cornerstone of the line-up, while Fitzpatrick and Howard will be counted on to step up to provide leadership on the mound in what the Tigers hope will be a turning point-type season.
• Head Coach: Joel Griffin
• 2013 Record: 4-22, tied for eighth in Region 8-AAAAA
• Returning Starters: SS Parker Osterle, Jr.; 3B Carlos Perez, Sr.; LF Mason Brown, Sr.; RF Jordan Delgado, Sr.; C David Zamarron, Sr.
• Other key returners: 2B Michael Rodriguez, Soph.; 3B Brendon Perez, Soph.; 1B Jharol De La Rosa, Jr.; CF Savion Thompson, Soph.
• Key newcomers: CF Brian Barrett, Soph.; IF Israel Cardona, Jr.
• Outlook: While still possessing quite a bit of youth, the Patriots are a year older and a year wiser under first-year coach Griffin, with five starters returning from last season. Pitching is still a concern, but the experience in the field and at the plate should make the Patriots more competitive than a year ago.
• Head Coach: Rick Howard
• 2013 Record: 16-13, fourth in Region 8-AAAAAA, first round of Class AAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: IF Brock Baughcum, Jr.; IF Jonathan White, Jr.; RHP Thomas Byelick, Sr.; IF Alvaro Del Castillo, Sr.
•Other key returners: P Noah Albury, Sr.; OF Mickey Creighton, Sr.; C Mason LeBlanc, Jr.; OF Vince Moss, Sr.; P Parker Farschmann, Jr.; IF Connor Holman, Soph.; IF Hank Owens, Soph.
• Key newcomers: IF Justin Hohm, Sr.; IF Derick Martin, Sr.; OF Derrick Carswell, Jr.; OF/P Matthew Kopec, Jr.; OF Carlos Luna, Jr.; IF/P Nick Marquez, Jr.; OF Emmett Rutledge, Jr.; P Josh Denton, Soph.
• Outlook: The returning nucleus of Baughcum, White and Del Castillo is a solid one as the Broncos attempt to make another postseason run after coming just one strike away from knocking off eventual state champion Milton a year ago. Still, some of the youngsters will have to step up to keep them in the hunt in the always-competitive Region 8-AAAAAA. That’s especially true among the pitching staff, where team innings and ERA leader Byelick return, but only Albury threw more than 10 innings last season.
Central Gwinnett Black Knights
• Head Coach: Nick Hogan
• 2013 Record: 3-23, tied for eighth in Region 8-AAAAAA
• Returning Starters: SS Paulo De Los Santos, Jr.; C Kishan Raja, Jr.; 3B/RHP Roy Clackum, Sr.; OF Nestor Ramirez, Sr.
• Other key returners: UT Aladdin Alkhatib, Sr.; UT Hayden Wilson, Jr.
• Key newcomers: 1B/RHP Anthony Lopez, Fr.; 2B/RHP Rolando Heredia, Fr.
• Outlook: After winning just three games last season, first-year head coach Hogan has somewhat modest expectations for the Black Knights this spring. He will depend on veterans like seniors Clackum and Ramirez and juniors De Los Santos and Raja to set the tone by playing hard and showing leadership.
• Head Coach: John Poitevint
• 2013 Record: 9-18, sixth in Region 8-AAAAAA
• Returning Starters: C Austin Collins, Sr. (.422, 18 RBIs); OF Nick Mollica, Sr. (.419, .561 OBP, 11 SB)
• Other key returners: 1B/P Gage Murray, Jr.; P M.J. Hawkins, Jr.; SS Garrett Medley, Jr.; C Cason Calhoun, Jr.; OF Jackson Helfrich, Jr.; P Jack Peebles, Soph.
•Key newcomers: IF Dallas Richards, Sr.; IF Austin Brennan, Jr.; IF Andrew Brannings, Jr.; P/OF Jonathan Grant, Soph.; P/OF Brady Kelly, Soph.; OF Cooper Morgan, Soph.; OF Wesley Whitehead, Soph.; P/OF Ryan Vigue, Fr.
• Outlook: Just two starters — Collins behind the plate and Mollica in the outfield — return from a year ago. However, Poitevint is particularly excited about the talent level of a young, hungry core of newcomers. And the experience level will be bolstered somewhat by the return of Murray and Hawkins, who each threw a solid number of innings last spring, as well as the arrival of Buford transfer Richards. Poitevint is hopeful it will make for a good enough blend to keep up in the ever-competitive region.
• Head Coach: Jed Hixson
• 2013 Record: 19-10, Region 8-AAAAAA runner-up, first round of Class AAAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: C Colton Harrelson, Sr.
• Other key returners: OF Cody Helton, Sr.; OF/P Tyler Knight, Sr.
• Key newcomers: 2B/SS Oscar Serrratos, Fr.; 2B/SS Nic Laracuente, Soph.; P Will Ethridge, Soph.; C/UT Bryant Chandler, Jr.; OF/ P David Stinson, Jr.; OF/P Scott Witt, Sr.
• Outlook: One of the program’s most successful senior classes is gone, leaving Harrelson as the Rams’ lone returning starter. While that would seem to set up a rebuilding year, Hixson is optimistic that the next group of young, but talented, players can keep Grayson among the contenders in the region.
• Head Coach: Chan Brown
• 2013 record: 27-9, Region 8-AAAAAA champions, Class AAAAAA state semifinals
• Returning Starters: LHP Mac Marshall, Jr. (6-2, 2.33 ERA, 79 K, 45 IP); SS Trevor Brown, Jr. (.313, 10 RBIs, 16 R, 6 SB); LHP/1B/OF Jordan Kelly, Sr. (4-3, 4.41 ERA, 27 K, 46 IP); 2B/SS Daino Deas, Jr. (.308, 2 HR, 28 RBIs, 28 R, 5 SB); LHP Christian Vann, Sr. (7-2, 3.17 ERA, 40 K, 53 IP); C J.P. Chamblee, Sr.; 3B/RHP Jim Wagner, Sr.
• Other key returners: LHP Andrew Dorminey, Sr.; OF Michael Craig, Sr.; OF/RHP Jason Awtrey, Jr.; OF David Draper, Jr.; OF Johnny Jones, Sr.; RHP Jake Roberson, Jr.
• Key newcomers: RHP Ryne Inman, Jr.; OF/LHP Brandon Hill, Jr.; 1B/RHP Isiah Gilliam, Sr.; C Austin Biggar, Soph.; RHP Trey Mullee, Jr.; OF Brian Kregel, Soph.
• Outlook: Despite losing a large senior class that produced two state championships and another trip to the semifinals last year, this will likely be more of a reloading year than a rebuilding year for the Panthers. The return of nationally-recognized prospect Marshall, plus fellow senior starters Vann and Kelly, combined with the addition of Peachtree Ridge transfer Inman, give Parkview one of the most talented and deepest pitching staffs in the state. And while the line-up may not be as loaded with thunderous power as in past years, returning starters in juniors Brown and Deas should combine with incoming transfers Hill and Gilliam to make-up the core of another solid batting order. Deans and Brown will also lead what could be an excellent defensive club.
• Head Coach: Reggie Ingram
• 2013 Record: 15-13, fifth in Region 8-AAAAAA
• Returning Starters: 2B B.J. Armstead, Sr.; C/RHP/IF Gilberto Lopez, Sr.; SS/OF Eriq White, Jr.; OF Austin Exford, Sr.; P/OF Myles Smith, Soph.
• Outlook: Coming off three straight winning seasons, the Generals hope to remain among the region’s playoff-contending teams. They’ll have some rebuilding to do, particularly on the mound. However, veteran bats like Armstead, Lopez and White should give them a fighting chance each time they take the field.
South Gwinnett Comets
• Head Coach: Steve Teschner
• 2013 Record: 21-9, third in Region 8-AAAAA, first round of Class AAAAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: SS Montrell Marshall, Sr. (.358, 7 HR, 29 RBis, 22 R); LHP/OF Chad Smith, Jr. (.314, 4 HR, 27 RBIs, 21 R, 6 SB; 4-4, 1 save, 5.06 ERA, 36 K, 37 1/3 IP); C/IF Morgan Miller, Sr. (.311, 10 RBIs, 17 R); LHP/OF Adrian Martinez, Sr. (.304, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 29 R, 5 SB, 4-1, 1 save, 2.06 ERA, 23 K, 37 1/3 IP); RHP/UT Gabriel Tillman, Jr.; C/UT Cole Davis, Jr.
•Other key returners: IF Trenton Nutter, Jr.; IF Ryan Dunlap, Jr.
•Key newcomers: RHP/UT Dominique Jackson, Sr., 1B Deante Harris, Sr.; OF Coray Keel, Sr.; RHP Chris Solano, Sr.; LHP Jordan Pullens, Soph.; RHP/OF Mikey Lee, Soph.; C Graham Campbell, Soph.; LHP Seth Johnston, Fr.
• Outlook: While the Comets return just four everyday starters from last season’s playoff team, those returnees were all major contributors, led by Auburn-bound Super Six SS Marshall, returning All-County selection Martinez and multi-talented Smith and Miller. South also features five other returning players who had at least part-time experience, and the addition of newcomers like Duluth-transfer Jackson and the athletic multi-sport athlete Keel should make the Comets a contender in Region 8-AAAAAA.
• Head Coach: Chad Longe
• 2013 Record: 18-10, fourth in Region 8-AAAA, first round of Class AAAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: C T.J. Richardson, Sr. (.494, 2 HR, 24 RBIs, 13 2B); RHP Kameron Doster, Sr. (5-2, 1 save, 1.50 ERA, 55 K); 3B/SS/RHP Trenton Little, Sr. (7-0, 1 save, 2.42 ERA, 37 K, .338, 1 HR, 14 RBIs); RHP/1B Matt Ramsay, Sr. (.321, 1 HR, 30 RBIs, 16 2B, 4-5, 1 save, 3.70 ERA, 55 K); P Dustin Lennon, Sr. (2-0, 1 save, 4.20 ERA, 12 K); OF/IF Thomas Johnston, Sr.; DH/1B Kristoff Rietig, Jr. (.292, 18 RBIs); CF Marcus Millhouse, Jr.; OF/IF C.J. Wismer, Jr.; 3B Anthony Valvo, Soph.
• Key Newcomers: P Tyler Tillman, Sr.; RHP/SS Josh Zierten, Sr.; P Fureous Caldwell, Sr.; OF/C/RHP Chandler Burrow, Jr.; 3B Cole Dudley, Jr.; P Robert Fernandes, Jr.; P Riley Terry, Jr.; OF John Ormand, Jr.; 2B Cam Coursey, Soph.
• Outlook: The Longhorns have proven they are more than competitive by making the postseason each of the last two seasons. But now, they are looking to take the next step and not only challenge for the region title, but make a deep run into May. The buidling blocks appear to be there, with All-County selection Richardson returning behind the plate to lead a solid-hitting lineup and Doster, Little and Ramsay forming a formidable and experienced nucleus of a pitching staff.
• Head Coach: Tony Wolfe
• 2013 Record: 22-6, Region 7-AAA runner-up, first round of Class AAA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: C Joey Bart, Jr. (.478, 2 HR, 20 RBIs, 33 R, 9 2B); SS/ RHP Austin Upshaw, Sr. (.333, 1 HR, 15 RBIs, 30 R, 2-0, 1.40 ERA, 23 K, 15 IP); LHP/OF Jake Higginbotham, Jr. (.380, 11 RBIs, 20 R, 9-1, 0.70 ERA, 94 K, 50 IP, 4 CG); OF Patrick Burnette, Sr. (.378, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 25 R); 1B Hunter Puckett, Sr. (.400, 17 RBIs); 3B Jake Mayo, Sr. (.421, 1 HR, 15 RBIs); RHP/SS Conner Bennett, Jr. (3-2, 3.46 ERA, 41 K, 26 1/3 IP)
• Other top returners: 2B/RHP Kayden Berrett, Sr.; 1B/DH Bayne Miller, Sr.; RHP Kevin Coulter, JR.; RHP/1B Keyton Gibson, Jr.; LHP/OF Nick Wilhite, Soph.; RHP/2B Austin Wilhite, Soph.; OF/3B Griffin Jolliff, Soph.
• Key newcomers: OF/C Mitchell Adams, Jr.; C Conner Cohea, Jr.; OF Ben Wicker, Sr.; RHP Chase Hunter, Jr.; 1B Freeman Edwards, Jr.; 3B Jordan Perlotte, Jr.; LHP/OF Caleb Moore, Jr.
• Outlook: After an early exit from last year’s state playoffs, the Wolves return six regular starters and several key arms to make a deeper postseason run this spring. Offense shouldn’t be much of an issue, with Georgia Tech-committed junior Bart and seniors Upshaw, Burnett and Mayo leading a line-up with plenty of thunder. Higginbotham is one of the county’s top pitchers, and heads up a deep pitching staff. If they can develop the chemistry Wolfe believes they can, the Wolves could make their presence known in the postseason.
• Head Coach: Cliff Shelton
• 2013 Record: 13-15, fourth in Region 6-AA, first round of Class AA state playoffs
• Returning Starters: C Jackson O’Brien, Sr.; CF Ross Wood, Sr.; C Devin Daugherty, Sr.; OF Connor Joseph, Sr.; RHP Wes Bucher, Jr.; LHP/OF Peyton McGuire, Jr.; RHP/1B Jack McLaughlin, Sr.; IF Javy Lopez, Sr.; RHP/IF Justin Lewis, Sr.; P Connor Willyerd, Sr.
• Key newcomers: P Ben Childers, Sr.; IF/OF Will Lovett, Jr.; P/OF Brian Syphoe, Jr.; SS Lucas Boudreau, Jr.; IF Wade Cox, Jr.; OF Will Davies, Jr.; IF/P Doug DeBoer, Jr.; 1B Harry Kerr, Jr.; C Hunter McKernan, Jr.; P Adam Nakada, Jr.
• Outlook: Playing in one of Class AA’s toughest regions doesn’t faze Shelton, who became Gwinnett’s all-time winningest coach last season. He calls this year’s edition of the Spartans one of the deepest team he’s ever had in his 32 years at the helm. And with veterans at the plate like seniors O’Brien, Wood, Daugherty and Joseph and a pitching staff that includes Kentucky-commit Lewis (once he returns from the GAC basketball team) and Presbyterian signee McLaughlin, the Spartans figure to be right in the thick of a crowded region race with Lovett, Westminster and Wesleyan.
• Head Coach: Brian Krehmeyer
• 2013 Record: 21-12, third in Region 6-AA, Class AA state quarterfinals
• Returning Starters: C Grant Colton, Sr.; SS Carter Hall, Jr.; OF Jahmai Jones, Jr. (.482, 8 HR, 31 RBIs, 14 2B, 46 R, 1.379 OPS); RHP/3B Trey Mannion, Sr. (4-2, 1 save, 3.54 ERA, 26 K, 29 2/3 IP); P Christopher Peden, Sr. (2-5, 3.95 ERA, 32 K, 49 2/3 IP)
•Other key returners: OF/C Sam McWhorter, Jr.; RHP/ 3B Andrew Sauer, Jr. (1-0, 1 save, 1.06 ERA, 19 K, 26 1/3 IP); P/OF Christian Stark, Jr. (2-1, 1 save, 3.41 ERA, 11 K, 12 1/3 IP)
• Key newcomers: 2B Will Collins, Jr.; OF Brendan Abernathy, Jr.; P Alex Thompson, Soph.
• Outlook: Despite playing in a region that includes the defending state champion (Lovett) and runner-up (Westminster), as well as formidable GAC, the Wolves feel confident in their chances at not only challenging for the region title, but also making a deep postseason run. And why not? With Super Six outfielder Jones, already being touted as one of the top national prospects in the Class of 2015, leading a solid batting order and a pitching staff led by the experienced arms of Mannnion, Peden, Sauer and Stark, the Wolves have a good nucleus to build around if they can stay healthy.
Region 8-A, Division B
Hebron Christian Lions
• Head Coach: Josh Carter
• 2013 Record: 13-13, Third in Region 8-A, Division B, first round of Class A (Private) state playoffs
• Returning Starters: RHP Andrew Molnar, Sr.; OF/LHP Drew Coker, Sr.; OF Sid Turner, Jr.; SS Haydn Nechanicky, Sr.; OF/P Caleb Martin, Soph.; IF Tyler Calvert, Soph.; C Robby Stephens, Sr.; OF Matthew Glisson, Sr.; RHP Ben Coker, Soph.; RHP Matthew Cartmell Jr.; 2B Shane Smith, Soph.
• Key newcomers: 1B Joey Ruiz, Sr.; SS Brad Runnels, Sr.; 3B/2B Parker Runnels, Jr.
• Outlook: After fighting through a rebuilding season and still making the playoffs a year ago, the Lions appear to be in better position to get back to the success they’ve grown accustomed to this spring. As many as 10 players who saw significant playing time are back, led by second-team All-County SS Nechanicky to form a solid core both at the plate and in the field. The pitching staff could also be deep, with brothers Drew and Ben Coker returning, along with senior right-hander Molnar and junior Cartmell, all of whom have varsity experience.
Providence Christian Storm
• Head Coach: Adam Cantrell
• 2013 Record: 18-14, Region 8-A, Division B runner-up, Class A (Private) state quarterfinals
• Returning Starters: RHP/3B Jackson Winskie, Jr. (1.81 ERA, 38 K, 38 1/3 IP); C/OF Campbell Baldwin, Jr. (.356, 12 RBIs, 10 R, 21 BB)
• Other key returners: RHP/3B/1B Zach Meier, Jr.; 2B Caleb Carter, Soph.; LHP/OF Jeremiah Moore, Sr.
• Key newcomers: RHP/UT Garrett Whitlock, Jr.; CF Grant Brondyke, Jr.; OF/P Evan Porter, Jr.; 1B/P Carey Spratlin, Soph.; C/1B Jacob Koerper, Fr.; RHP/OF Carson Porterfield, Jr.
• Outlook: After making the state quarterfinals for the fifth time in six seasons a year ago, the Storm enter this spring considerably less experienced than in years past, with only juniors Winskie and Baldwin as returning starters. However, Cantrell is pleased with the talent level of his young squad, and is hopeful being competitive against a tough non-region schedule can be a benefit heading down the stretch.