From preseason results and analyzing the talent coaches claim to have on their teams, Region 7 baseball should be a wide-open race this season.
However, coaches expect the region championship to mainly be a tight battle between four teams Provo, Orem, Springville and Mountain View. No team is a clear-cut favorite. All are fairly even in experience, depth, pitching and offense. The question mark for most is going to be defense.
"You just can't give teams extra outs in this region and expect to win games," Orem coach Gary Miner said.
Even though Tooele, Payson and Timpview are not considered favorites to win it all, each has the ingredients and talent to beat any other team. Any of the three has the potential to be a surprise. Every team in the region is capable of at least making a serious run at one of the league's four playoff spots, which should make for a season of very close games.
Cottonwood, from Region 6, is probably the favorite to win the 4A state title. However, several Region 7 teams could give the Colts a run for their money. Overall, Region 7 might be the strongest from top to bottom 4A league in the state.
"We have a pretty good team coming back, but our region is so tough this year that you just don't know what will happen," Payson coach Scott Haney said.
As region games begin today, the league's parity is evident by the fact that only Orem and Mountain View have losing records. Both are only one game below .500 and both have played preseason schedules loaded with 5A powers.
With most games expected to be close, the wildcard will likely be pitching depth. Every team has at least two solid starters. But a few of the teams remain questionable in the bullpen. The need for pitching depth might be neutralized some this season by the fact that the region is not playing each opponent back-to-back like they did last year. Therefore, teams can save certain pitchers for certain teams if they so choose.Another unknown is how injuries and roster changes will affect teams. Mountain View will be without ace Cameron Schmidt, who tore his ACL in basketball, for a couple more weeks. Timpview lost starting catcher Jason Whittingham to injury. Provo has three starting pitchers who are not yet eligible academically, but likely will be OK to play within the next week or two.
Region 7 Baseball
SPRINGVILLE RED DEVILS
COACH: Willy Child, seventh year
LAST YEAR: 14-11, first in Region 7
OUTLOOK: The Red Devils probably have the league's deepest pitching staff. They also have a solid batting order and good team speed. Clearly, the key for Springville will be defense, which has cost the Red Devils a couple of preseason losses. We feel like that we can win every game we play if we just play good baseball defensively, coach Willy Child said.
TOP HITTERS: Corey MacMurdo, Sr.; Ben Doxey, Sr.; Isaac Allred, Jr.; Jeff Boyd, Jr.
TOP DEFENDERS: Boyd, INF; MacMurdo, OF; Eric Bulow, Sr., OF; Trevor Jeffers, Sr., INF; Brandon Miller, Sr., C.
TOP PITCHERS: Brian Whatcott, Sr., RH; T. J. Whiting, Sr., LH; Kurt Averett, Sr., RH; Todd Oakey, Sr., RH.
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: First
COACH: Gary Miner, third year
LAST YEAR: 11-14, fourth in Region 7
OUTLOOK: The Tigers have good starting pitching and are a solid defensive team especially up the middle. They also have a batting order that puts the ball in play, has batters who can hit with power and the entire lineup runs the bases well. All Orem has to do is play consistent baseball. All the pieces are there, coach Gary Miner said. We just need to take care of the basics and make teams play defense to get us out.
TOP HITTERS: C. J. Harrison, Sr.; Goose Kallunki, Sr.; Jordan Sargent, Sr.; Travis Strong, Sr.; Marc Morgan , Sr .
TOP DEFENDERS: Sargent, INF; Kallunki, INF; Harrison, C.; Jordan Johnston, Sr., INF.; Jeff Mella, Sr., OF.
TOP PITCHERS: Marc Morgan, Sr., RH; Nate Adamson, Sr., RH; J. T. Lindsay, Sr., RH; Josh Hamblin, Jr., RH; Gray Harrison, So., RH.
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: Second
MOUNTAIN VIEW BRUINS
COACH: Chris Cooper, 10th year
LAST YEAR: 14-8, fifth in Region 4
OUTLOOK: The Bruins are experienced, have a solid hitting team and should have no problem scoring. They also have some solid defensive players. The key to a successful season for Mountain View will probably come down to starting pitching and depth. I think we're going to score enough runs, but we're only going to go as far as our pitching takes us and we have to play better defense than we've been playing, coach Chris Cooper said.
TOP HITTERS: Marcus Draper, Sr.; Mark Garrett, Sr.; Sam Roden, Sr.; Caleb Loveland, Sr.; Kyle Kendall, Sr.; Tanner Young, Sr.
TOP DEFENDERS: Loveland, INF; Roden, INF; Kendall, INF; Draper, OF; Garrett, OF.
TOP PITCHERS: Cameron Schmidt, Sr., RH; Draper, RH; Roden, RH; Loveland, RH; Young, LH
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: Third
COACH: Lance Moore, ninth year
LAST YEAR: 14-15, third in Region 7
OUTLOOK: The Bulldogs probably won't beat teams with the long ball or even with extra-base hits, but they should be one of the best at manufacturing runs and keeping games close . Defensively, they're solid in every position and they're deep. However, Provo has several unknowns such as three pitchers (two transfers) who may become eligible at any time. If our pitching staff comes together and solidifies itself, we could go from a good four-guy staff to a good seven-guy staff, coach Lance Moore said.
TOP HITTERS: Adam Law, Sr., Greg Schofield, Sr.; Andy Isom, Jr.; Morgan Ventura, Jr.; McClain Griffin, Jr.
TOP DEFENDERS: Law, INF; Schofield, INF; Isom, OF; Griffin, OF; Matt Griner, So., C.
TOP PITCHERS: Brad Rigby, Jr.; Griffin Geslison, Sr.; Kyle Valgardson, Sr.; Ryan Golding, Jr.
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: Fourth
COACH: Scott Haney, 17th year
LAST YEAR: 6-17, sixth in Region 7
OUTLOOK: All of those innings that Payson's sophomore and juniors logged last season should benefit the Lions this season. The Lions have depth and a roster of batters who can hit for power and average. Payson has more lefties on the pitching staff than any other team. If we don't boot the ball around and our pitchers throws strikes and don't walk guys, I think we're going to be OK, coach Scott Haney said.
TOP HITTERS: Beau Bufton, Sr.; Dalton Smith, Sr.; Harry Davis, Sr.; Spensor Smith, Jr.
TOP DEFENDERS: D. Smith, INF; Davis, OF; Jason Mathews, Sr., OF; Austin Atkinson, Sr., INF; McCade Ford, Sr., INF;
TOP PITCHERS: Tyson Memmott, Jr., LH; Tadd Menlove, Sr., LH; Brett Carter, So., LH; Bufton, RH
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: Fifth
COACH: Dan Medina, third year
LAST YEAR: 15-10, third in Region 11
OUTLOOK: The Buffaloes are experienced and have been playing together for years. They make contact at the plate, score plenty of runs, have team speed and play solid defense . Key to their success will be whether the pitching can keep them in games, and maintaining team chemistry . Our motto this year is all about putting we first rather than making it about I, coach Dan Medina said.
TOP HITTERS: Matt Gochis, Jr.; Zack Clausing, Sr.; Matt Medina, Jr.; Steven Witkowski, Jr.; Chisolm Woolley, Sr.
TOP DEFENDERS: Gochis, INF; Clausing, INF; Medina, INF; Stewart Christensen, Sr., INF; Cody Lopez, Sr.
TOP PITCHERS: Clausing, RH; Christensen, RH; Derrick Anderson, Sr., LH; Jordan Linnell, Sr., LH; Matt Trussell, Jr., RH.
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: Sixth
COACH: Al Poland, first year
LAST YEAR: 7-18, fifth in Region 7
OUTLOOK: The T-Birds seem to have the same characteristics every year. Again, they are a team with solid hitters and a team that will score plenty of runs . However, they are struggling defensively and they also lack depth in pitching . We need to limit teams to three outs an inning, coach Al Poland said. If we can do that then at least we'll give ourselves a chance to win most ball games.
TOP HITTERS: Dominique Moe, Sr.; Ben Daniel, Jr.; Casey Rumsey, Jr.; Max Forest, Jr.
TOP DEFENDERS: Moe, OF; Rumsey, OF; Forest, C; Jeremiah Burr, So., INF; Justin Bronk, Sr., INF.
TOP PITCHERS: Daniel, LH; Moe, RH; Rumsey, RH; Forrest, RH; Keir Larsen, Sr., RH.
PREDICTED 2008 REGION FINISH: Seventh