ST. GEORGE – The high school baseball season starts tonight, and boy does it – all six Region 9 teams are in action at various fields around Washington County.
Tryouts were just a week ago, although most coaches had a pretty good idea what their teams would look like after work in the summer and fall. Five different tournaments (or “classics”) open late this afternoon and continue through Saturday.
Two-time defending region and state champion Pine View opens with 5A Hunter (8:30 p.m. at Panther Field) and the Panthers have a lot of holes to fill. Gone to graduation are stars Dakota Donovan, Connor Clark, Tyler Johnston, Logan LaFemina and Brooks Barney.
But new stars began to emerge late last season, including Jarod Stirling, Ryke Erikson and Jagun Leavitt.
Pine View faces Hunter tonight, then Granger (6 p.m.) and Union (8:30 p.m.)Friday night, with a final foe in the Tiger-Panther Classic to be determined for Saturday afternoon.
Cedar, which placed second at state the past two seasons at the hands of Donovan and company, technically started its season Tuesday with a 4-1 exhibition win over Beaver. CHS also has some talent to replace, most notably hitters Rykker Tom and Trey Esplin and pitchers Kyler Carrizosa and Berick Englestead. Power hitter Drake Lewis does return and will anchor the lineup after going for 14 extra-base hits last year.
The Redmen are participating in the Donnie Pymm First Pitch Classic, which is hosted by Dixie High. Cedar plays Juab at 4 p.m. today at Dixie State’s Hurst Field. On Friday, the Redmen play twice with an 11:30 a.m. game against Box Elder at DSU and a 4 p.m. game against Bear River at Dixie High. Saturday, Cedar will play a yet to be determined opponent.
Dixie is hosting that Donnie Pymm tourney and the Flyers are expected to be very good this season. Dixie went 18-8 last year and returns most of the stars from that team. Chance Vowell and Trevor Connell have graduated, but the Flyers have a pair of bona fide stars in Tyson Fisher and Hobbs Nyberg returning, plus other key contributors like Dayton Dempsey, Wyatt Woodland and Kayler Yates.
The Flyers open with two games today: Payson at 4 p.m.. and Carbon at 7 p.m. Both games are at Flyer Field. On Friday, Dixie hosts Mountain Crest at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, the Flyers will play a yet to be determined foe at DHS.
Desert Hills actually finished one game below .500 last season overall, despite tying for second in region play. The Thunder feature a wealth of talent from last year’s squad, however, and are expected to contend under new head coach Chris Allred. DH features six returning starters: outfielders Trey Winget and Quinn Kiser, infielders Drew Thorpe, Seth Betts and Trey Allred and pitcher Chad Nelson.
D-Hills hosts the Summit Invitational this week and will play Copper Hills tonight at 7 p.m., Judge Memorial Friday at 7 p.m. and a yet to be determined opponent on Saturday. All games are at Desert Hills High School.
Snow Canyon is another team that, despite a losing record last season, could contend for a title with a wealth of returning players. The Warriors were 8-15 a season ago and missed the playoffs, but have seven players who saw significant time last season: catcher Kaleb Gates, infielders Cannon Secrist, Austin Deming and Jed Jensen, outfielders Davis Rigby and Matt Kitchen and pitcher Breck Eichelberger.
The Warriors host the KJ Harrison Classic this week and will play host to Cimarron (Nev.) at 5 p.m.. tonight, Lehi Friday night (8 p.m.) and Syracuse Saturday afternoon (1 p.m.) with a championship game to be held that night.
Hurricane hopes to rise from the ashes of an 8-11 season last year and the Tigers might have the horses to do it. Back to lead the team are stars Alec Flemetakis and Tobie Swenson, as well as Nick Horsley, Michael Lacy and Noah Humphrey for second-year coach Jon Homer.
The Tigers, as part of the Tiger-Panther Classic, host Park City at 8:30 p.m. tonight, then battle South Sevier (6 p.m,) and Sky View (8:30 p.m.) Friday. HHS will then play a yet to be determined foe Saturday. All Hurricane games are at Tiger Field.
So, ready or not, baseball season is here. Play ball.
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