There have been some star-studded teams that have captured the American Legion state championship in recent seasons, like last year's combined Kearns/Taylorsville club and the loaded 2003 St. George squad.
None of the teams in this year's tournament, which begins at Oquirrh Park in Kearns on Saturday, would be considered combined "super teams" like some of the past few state champions. But that's not entirely negative. This year's field is balanced, and the parity should make for an intriguing state tournament.
"This year, more than any other year, I have to say it's pretty wide open," said Cyprus coach Brooks Jones. "Whoever gets hot is going to win it."
If one team can be considered a slight favorite to win the state championship, it's Taylorsville. The Warriors, led by ace pitcher Tyler Curtis, won the Salt Lake Valley League championship. Taylorsville probably has the most pitching depth of any team in the tournament, and can also put up some runs with players like Jeff Pratt in the lineup.
There are several other teams capable of winning the state title, such as Blacksmith Fork, Smithfield, Cyprus, Helper, Murray and Cedar City. Blacksmith Fork, featuring nothing but younger athletes who will play for Mountain Crest's high-school team next year, won the Northern League championship.
Pitching and defense helped Blacksmith Fork overcome the always tough Smithfield Aztecs in the Northern League. Taylor Larsen, Derek Pond and Kyler Webb, all left-handed pitchers, have helped Blacksmith Fork become a force this season.
"Pitching and defense are definitely our strengths right now," said Blacksmith Fork coach Stephen Hansen.
Cyprus is lacking some of the pitching depth it had during the high school season, but still boasts one of the state's top arms in Taylor Jones. The Pirates took second place in the Valley League.The tournament's depth is at a lower level than the past few years because there is no representation from the St. George schools. Cedar City, however, should be able to represent the southern part of the state quite well.
American Legion Baseball
Grantsville vs. Uintah, 11 a.m.
Kearns vs. Blacksmith Fork, 2 p.m.
Spartans vs. Cyprus, 5 p.m.
Helper vs. Smithfield, 10 a.m.
Cedar City vs. Box Elder, 1 p.m.
Tooele vs. Taylorsville U17, 4 p.m.
Taylorsville vs. Logan, 7 p.m.