But veteran coach Joey Sato, whose team took the state title in 2011, has another solid squad led by senior pitcher/outfielder Brennon Lund, a second team All-State selection last season. Catcher/infielder Jacob Druce was also a key contributor for the Miners last season, when they went 24-6 and advanced to the fourth day of the state tournament before falling to eventual 5A finalist Taylorsville.
Riverton's high ranking is based on the return of the Silverwolves' four top players from last season — first team All-State pitcher Tanner Draper (8-2 with a 1.84 ERA), and second team selections Greyson Bogden, Cam Gust and Jared White — who were all juniors a year ago.
Maple Mountain claimed the Region 8 crown and piled up an impressive 24-6 record on its way to making a deep run in the 4A state tournament last season under head coach Gary Miner.
The Golden Eagles return several strong performers off that ballclub, including senior pitcher Arik Mack, a first team All-State selection who went 10-0 with a glittering 1.09 ERA and 109 strikeouts last season; hard-hitting junior outfielder Nick Mafi, senior pitcher Makay Nelson, and senior infielder Jonah Flinders. Mafi and Nelson both earned second team All-State honors in 2012.
Mountain Crest, coming off a 21-9 season which included a Region 5 title and a deep state tourney run of its own, is expecting big things from junior outfielder Luke Smith and junior pitcher Ben Weese, who both earned second team All-State honors as sophomores last season.
Mustangs coach Alex Jensen is also hoping for strong performances from junior shortstop Anthony Peterson, junior utility player Nick Taylor and senior pitcher/outfielder Scott Henderson.
Salem Hills will be bolstered by the return of senior pitcher/outfielder Colton Hill, who had a 9-3 record with a 1.79 ERA on the mound and also knocked in 30 runs last season, when he earned first team All-State honors.
Cam Howe, a senior pitcher/infielder, leads the way for Murray after going 6-1 on the mound and batting a robust .507 last year.
Snow Canyon has several key players back from last year's state championship team which overcame the forfeiture of four league games for using an ineligible player.
Leading the way for the Warriors, who went 21-9 last season despite those four forfeits, is senior southpaw pitcher Riley Gates, whose 9-1 record, microscopic 0.82 ERA and 109 strikeouts earned him first team All-State honors and were a key component in their state title run. Senior infielder Brogan Secrrist, who hit .375 with 25 RBIs and 31 runs scored, also returns after his own first team All-State season, as does second team All-State selection Chandler Day and catcher Brady Sargent.
And the Warriors will have extra incentive to repeat as state champions, as they can dedicate this season to the memory of K.J. Harrison, a key contributor on last year's title team who tragically drowned during a scout outing last summer.
Gunnison, which piled up a 24-2 record last year on its way to sweeping the state title, lost some solid senior stars via graduation. But the Bulldogs still return senior pitcher/shortstop Colby Caldwell, who was a second team All-State selection last season.
Senior pitcher/outfielder Dakota Bullock, a first team All-State player who went 8-3 last season, leads the way for Millard.
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