Baseball preview: Senior-heavy Weber hopes for breakout season in tough Region 1

Monday , March 19, 2018 - 9:46 PM

If you looked at Weber’s baseball roster last season, finding a senior was like a “Where’s Waldo?” book.

There was only one, Easton Thon.

Although head coach Trevor Howell says the Warriors had plenty of talent last season, they were swept by Clearfield in the first series of the year and never really recovered. 

But this year, Weber’s 22-player roster features 11 seniors who tout a mix of talent, experience and a desire to improve on last year’s disappointing 10-15 campaign.

As Region 1 games begin this week (Weber actually starts next week), a new season begins with many quietly pegging the Warriors as a potential breakout team.

“They’re the ones that nobody’s really talking about, but they’re going to be really good,” Layton head coach Robert Ferneau said.

The Warriors went 3-1 last weekend to open their season in St. George, with the lone loss coming to Snow Canyon, one of the more loaded teams in the state in terms of college-level talent.

Howell says Weber’s other strength apart from experience is pitching. Of the 155 innings the Warrior pitchers threw last year, 152 2/3 return, including Mitchell McKnight, Bridger Vorwaller and Brevin Thon.

“These guys have put a lot of work in being a year older and being on the program for the three years, and some of them have been here for four years since they were freshmen,” Howell said. “All the pitchers are back, literally everybody’s back.”

The attention is rare for a team that last had a winning season in 2008. Weber has been building for this season the past three years, when they played 25 games and lost 24.

The expectations have changed.

“Seeing this group since they were freshmen and sophomores — they’re capable, the talent’s there. It’s just a matter of guys playing their role and playing for the team,” Howell said. 

REGION OUTLOOKS

REGION 1

Northridge is by far the most talked-about team in the region when it comes down to championship contenders, though Ferneau and Howell both say there will be no easy games in Region 1.

BYU commit pitcher Jake Porter is among the Knights’ more formidable players. As an overall pitching staff, however, Northridge has allowed 24 runs in 34 innings.

Their batting isn’t a huge to-do at the moment. Outfielder Ryker Kap is hitting .467 with six extra-base hits (one home run) through the first five games, and Drew West and Paul Formby are both hitting .353. 

Northridge plays 1-6 Syracuse to open region play. Titans’ right fielder Hunter Wilder is breaking out in his junior season, hitting .429 according to MaxPreps. 

Layton might be 0-3 and have a young lineup, but the Lancers’ losses are against Cyprus, Riverton and Bingham, three of the teams expected to be playing in the later rounds of the state tournament this May.

The Lancers open with Davis this week. The Darts have a new head coach, former Clearfield coach Josh Godfrey, to lead a young team bent on erasing the memories of last year’s 24-0 regular season and early playoff exit.

The Darts’ top six hitters by batting average consist of four sophomores and two juniors, with seniors Cody Christensen and Zach Hoskins leading the way on the mound.

Fremont touts Washington State-bound left-handed pitcher Kyler Bush, who reportedly impressed several professional scouts in January at the Perfect Game West MLK Championship in Phoenix.

Sage Wayment and Cade Hadley should provide a lot of important hitting for Fremont, which is also in the conversation for a region title. For those who want to watch Bush duel Porter, the Silver Wolves play Northridge March 27, 28 and 30.

This week the Silver Wolves play Clearfield, which is a lot deeper than years past. They’re 1-1 in the early going with solid pitching all the way around, so if Clearfield can hit, the Falcons can contend.

REGION 5

Region 5 is going to be a prolonged session of “Hi, nice to meet you,” thanks to the latest realignment.

Roy is 3-1 this year and has to replace a lot of talent, but they have a good, veteran catcher in Jack Hulce and all-around player Brody Perkes.

Bountiful graduated a lot of seniors from its 14-12 campaign last year, but the Braves should be fine once they actually get to play. Their only game is a 6-1 loss to Davis.

Box Elder is 2-2 to start Jesse Roberts’ first year as head coach. The Bees return a lot of their top players from a year ago: Porter Cochran, Jake Holgate, Jeremy Gee and others.

Viewmont has a deep core of pitchers: Aaron Bresguard, Cam Barson, Mason Roberts and Hunter Tueller. They were the four most-used pitchers for the Vikings last year and could propel Viewmont to a good finish in region.

At Woods Cross, Chase Miller and Andrew Kirchmeier spearhead a solid squad that’s looking to back into the winning ranks. The Wildcats had eight-straight winning seasons from 2008-09 to 2016-17, a streak that ended last year.

REGION 11

Region 11 features plenty of good local rivalries — the three Weber County schools, the two rival Tooele County schools — but for the most part, the schools are rather unfamiliar with one another.

Ogden will have to go without standout pitcher Nick Freeman, who had Tommy John surgery before the season started and will miss the rest of the year.

Max DeCorso has stepped in as one of the Tigers’ primary pitchers and they’re a solid all-around team, but they’ll need to up their run output to be in contention for a playoff spot this year.

Ogden’s first task is this week’s series with Stansbury, which takes the teams to Smith’s Ballpark for their Wednesday matchup.

Bonneville went 0-4 and allowed 48 runs in those games in a season-opening tournament in St. George. The Lakers rebounded with a gutty win over Logan, beating the Grizzlies 8-6 after trailing 6-0 in the third inning.

Bridger Butters is already hitting .333 to start the season for Bonneville, which plays Ben Lomond this week.

The Scots are 1-1 with a big win over North Summit and a 22-4 loss to Morgan in which the Trojans scored 16 runs in one inning. Bonneville went winless last season and haven’t come close to a winning season since 2001 when they went 9-11. 

Around the region, defending 3A Region 10 champion Park City, Juan Diego and Stansbury make up the rest of the likely contenders in Region 11 this year.

AROUND THE AREA

The groundwork is there for Bear River to be a contender in Region 12 this year. The Bears are 3-1 to start, averaging 8.5 runs per game.

Morgan hasn’t had a winning season since 2013, but could be in position for one this year. A big benchmark for them will be this Friday’s matchup with Park City, weather permitting.

Nobody can keep Layton Christian (0-5) senior Gerrit Sterk off the basepaths in the early going.

Sterk has 12 plate appearances, which includes four walks, one hit-by-pitch and a 6 for 7 mark at the plate (that’s a .857 batting average) with three doubles, two triples and a home run.

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Bonneville High’s baseball coach as Ryan Alexander. The head coach is Scott Jorgensen.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickcarr_ or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/patrickcarr17.

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