This is the second installment in the Standard-Examiner’s 2020 spring sports preview story series.
Today’s story looks at prep baseball in Regions 5, 10 and 2A North.
Defending region champion Roy moved up to 6A and the Nos. 2-5 teams in this region last year were separated by two games.
So where do things stand in 2020?
Indications point to the region title going through Farmington High. The second-year Phoenix has a boatload of returning starters, according to head coach Alex Exon.
Among returners are infielder JP Mortensen, pitcher/outfielder Andrew Quinton, outfielder Brock Brown, outfielder Ethan Trump, pitcher/outfielder Sam Rencher, infielder Logan Forbush, all-around player Trey Farr and infielder Aiden Nash.
The key, Exon said, is pitching. Farmington expects to use a lot of players on the mound this year and not many have varsity experience. One pitcher he thinks could have a breakout year is Aaron Bornholdt.
Strictly by the coaches’ preseason poll (read on), the next favorite would appear to be Bountiful.
Five starters return, four are seniors and one’s a sophomore: pitcher Mason Farr, first baseman Sam Jordan, third baseman/pitcher Jackson Skidmore and catcher Carson Knudsen. The sophomore returner is pitcher/outfielder Truman Duryea.
Farr is signed with Salt Lake Community College and already has a complete-game, 81-pitch shutout to his name this season.
Bountiful head coach Clark Stringfellow, in his 24th year at the helm of the team, called Farr and Duryea as good of pitchers as he’s ever seen.
Stringfellow says Bountiful has good depth in the bullpen and outfield, but varsity experience is a concern.
The ever-vital middle infield consists of two juniors — Lincoln Duryea and Boston Malmrose — who are both new starters, but they’re two players Stringfellow is excited about.
Woods Cross is coming off a 12-15 campaign and returns SLCC commit infielder Karson Bodily, who batted .500 with team-highs in RBIs (25), doubles (8), triples (3) and home runs (2) last year.
It’s also the second year under coach Paul Ayala — not second year total, since he previously coached the ‘Cats in the early 2010s — so Woods Cross could be slated for improvement.
The ‘Cats could have three sophomores starting in the infield, but Ayala thinks if the team’s pitching and defense is solid, the team will be successful as well.
Box Elder’s a young team with less than a handful of returning starters, but one of those starters is pitcher Logan Holgate.
Holgate is signed with SLCC and, according to head coach Jesse Roberts, has had his pitches clocked in the high-80s and low-90s range.
He has a 15-strikeout game to his name already this season, that coming in a 5-1 tournament win over Bear River last weekend.
Another returning starter is outfielder and leadoff hitter Nate Wheatley, who, along with playing baseball last season, practiced the long jump twice and then won the 5A state championship in the event.
Viewmont has three key returners: pitchers Will Schultz and Cooper Royal, and shortstop Will Carter.
The Vikings are young with a ton of sophomores and will go as far as their pitching takes them, head coach Jeff Toller said.
As an example of not to completely write off Viewmont, last season the Vikings started 0-10, then went 9-6 in Region 5 play and finished one game out of a shared region title.
Bonneville returns five starters in shortstop Colby Taylor, outfielder/pitcher Aiden Taylor, outfielder/pitcher Cameron Jones, all-around player Payton Freer and second baseman Payton Land.
There’s two big challenges the Lakers face. The first is the obvious step up in competition moving from 4A to 5A.
The second is figuring out who can succeed at catcher after multi-year starter Brian Jones graduated last year.
The Standard-Examiner asked Region 5 coaches to vote in a preseason poll. Teams got six points for a first-place vote, five points for a second-place vote and so on.
Total points are listed next to the team names. First-place votes are in parentheses. Five of the six region coaches voted.
1. Farmington, 28 (4)
2. Bountiful, 22
T3. Box Elder, 19 (1)
T3. Woods Cross, 19
5. Viewmont, 12
6. Bonneville, 5
Ogden and Ben Lomond have new head coaches. Wesley Padilla takes over at Ogden for Lars Birkeland and Jason “JJ” Miller takes over at Ben Lomond after Sterling Harris was fired.
The Scots won’t play their home games at home this season — they’ll be at Serge Simmons Field.
Their baseball field is being renovated as part of the multi-million dollar gymnasium construction project on campus, but the new grass hadn’t been put down by the time the snow started falling in the winter.
The Ogden-Ben Lomond rivalry gets a new spin this year. The series will be played as a doubleheader at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31 at Lindquist Field.
Ogden and Ben Lomond were the bottom two teams in their region last year and, because of how overmatched they both are in their region, they could be in for some tough stretches in April.
Miller thinks the key to Ben Lomond’s success will be playing good defense, limiting big innings, being patient as a new coaching staff and building some confidence with the team.
Ogden is off to a 1-4-1 start — the one tie comes from a tournament game — and sophomore Bode Larson is leading the way with a .300 batting average. Luis De La Torre leads the team with three RBIs.
Cedar Valley and Uintah are new additions to the region while Park City and Bonneville moved out (from 4A to 5A).
For starters, no one’s sure if 2A North is the actual name of Layton Christian’s region.
That’s because a) there’s no region standings page on MaxPreps for any region that includes LCA, and b) the school’s athletic director isn’t even sure.
All that’s known is LCA plays Altamont, North Summit and Duchesne three times and that’s who shares a region with the Eagles.
The semantics of whether the region is called 2A North, 2A Northern or something else is escaping people right now.
The Eagles return senior Gunnar Sterk, who batted .429 last season.