High school baseball: Bingham, Spanish Fork, Snow Canyon and Emery top Deseret News preseason poll

Published: Monday, March 17 2014 7:35 p.m. MDT

"We return seven players who all had major varsity experience," Pleasant Grove head coach Darrin Henry told the Deseret News. "We should have a very competitive team with a bright outlook. This team has several players with the ability to play at the next level. It will be fun to see this young team continue working to reach their potential.”

Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford likes his team's chances, too, thanks to a couple of second-team all-state selections, senior pitcher Hunter Smith and senior catcher Jake Atkinson, who return for the Colts along with seniors Carter Owens, Josh Shapiro, Martin Chagnovich, Jordan Martinez, Andrew Goodfellow, Dylan Cooley, Jeff Barton and Tevita Gerber.

"We are senior-loaded and making a small run last year gives us quite a bit of experience for this group," Crawford said. "We have good pitching with some depth, with good team speed."

American Fork, the 5A champ in 2012, returns senior pitcher/infielder Sean Hardman, who was a second-team all-state selection last season, along with honorable mention all-stater Emmett Green.

Jordan will again be led by senior catcher/pitcher Colton Shaver, a BYU signee and first-team all-state performer who posted a 6-1 record on the mound and hit .542 with nine home runs and eight doubles last year.

He'll be joined by honorable mention all-state selections Mason Krueger and Morgan Gomez, as well as Cale Hathaway, Christian Bailey and Drew Lisk.

"We are a senior-heavy team that should compete well against our competition this year," Jordan coach Chad Fife said. "Led by returning three-year all-state catcher Colton Shaver, we have an excellent chance at having a great season."

Also in the 5A mix this year will be Layton, last year's state tournament runner-up that won 20 games in 2013. The Lancers are led by senior pitcher/infielder Caleb Harrop, who earned second-team all-state honors last year, along with senior outfielder Quentin Marcelin, an honorable mention all-stater last season.

Veteran coach Robert Ferneau's ballclub will also feature senior infielder Frankie Aguilar, senior outfielders Rusty Wilbert and Josofat Chavez, and senior utility man Brady Jewell.

Class 4A

Back in the 4A ranks after spending the previous couple of seasons in the 3A classification, Spanish Fork is off to a terrific 5-0 start this season and has bludgeoned its first five opponents by a combined score of — get this — 78-1.

The Dons' veteran coach, Jim "Shoe" Nelson, likes what he sees.

"We have a lot of starters returning," he said, "and our pitching should be outstanding — hard throwers and good depth, five to six deep. Defense should be solid, and hitting should be good and possibly real good.

"We should be a typical Spanish Fork team," said Nelson, whose ballclub went 21-7 overall and won the Region 12 title with a 10-0 record last year. "We could be real good and should be right in the hunt."

Leading the way for the Dons this time around will be three honorable mention all-state selections from last season — senior shortstop/pitcher Hayes Hall, who hit .300 with 14 RBIs and is a solid player and slick infielder; senior first baseman Brock Nelson, who Coach Nelson calls a "solid hitter" and "tough out" that hit .330 with 17 RBIs last year; and senior pitcher/third baseman Maverick Buffo, whose game is as good as his name. On the mound, Buffo went 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA last year and has signed to play collegiately at BYU.

Salem Hills, which claimed the 4A crown and piled up a superb 27-3 record last season, lost 10 seniors off that stellar ballclub.

But Skyhawks coach Scott Haney says his squad has tremendous team speed, and the Skyhawks will be counting on senior pitcher Austin Hanks, senior outfielder Scott Lyman and senior catcher Matt Whiting to lead the charge this year, along with senior southpaw pitcher Khristian Sorensen, juniors Jesse Rowley, Easton Tallon and Lakota Centeno, and sophomores Tanner Hamblin and Cooper Smith.

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