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ARCADIA VALLEY Tigers

2018 Record: 12-11 (3-2 MAAA Small)

Head Coach – John Inman

Key Returners: Carter Brogan, soph., OF; Kyle Helms, sr., UT; Stephen Pursley, jr., C; Luke Savage, sr., 3B; Corbin Rea, jr. CF; Eli Vandergriff, sr., 1B; Taylon Jones, soph., P; Elliot Womble sr., OF

Season Outlook:

Arcadia Valley reached the district semifinals for the third consecutive year, but was unable to get past St. Pius.

Head coach John Inman expects the Tigers to be very competitive despite being younger this year than previous years.

Two all-state players — outfielder Isaiah Gibbs and catcher Tatum Jones — have moved on. Inman believes his team can fill the gaps with hardworking kids who are eager to compete.

Carter Brogan, Kyle Helms and Stephen Pursley are expected to contribute time on the mound, along with Luke Savage, Eli Vandergriff, Taylon Jones and Elliot Womble.

BISMARCK Indians

2018 Record: 13-10 (2-3 MAAA Small)

Head Coach – Chris Hayes

Key Returners: Logan Dunn, sr., P; Shawn Mork, sr., SS; Connor Sullivan, soph., C; Kaydon Ketcherside, sr., OF

Season Outlook:

Bismarck started last season with eight wins in nine games, and saw last season end at the hands of eventual Class 2 State Champion Valle Catholic in the district playoffs.

Tim Mork, Dalton Dugal, Joey Gillyon, Hunter Drake and Malcolm Hawkins graduated after last season.

The Indians return four starters, and head coach Chris Hayes said the roster is looking pretty good with several freshmen and sophomores in the mix. 

Left-handed hitting senior Logan Dunn is their most prolific threat at the plate and likely ace on the mound.

Shortstop Shawn Mork had a great season at the plate, and will get another opportunity to provide innings toeing the rubber.

Sophomore Connor Sullivan returns at catcher position, where he had a solid freshman year. Kaydon Ketcherside holds an outfield position, but if needed, can be versatile at other positions.

CENTRAL Rebels

2018 Record: 17-9 (4-1 MAAA Large)

Head Coach – Ronnie Calvird

Key Returners: Braydon Scherffius, jr., 3B; Cade Scherffius, jr., pitcher; Gage Manion, jr. 2B/SS; Dylan Corcoran, jr., C; Drew Hamski, jr., OR; Sam Hart, jr., designated hitter

Season Outlook:

Central reached the Class 4, District 2 final for the second time in three years before being bounced by state quarter-finalist and MAAA rival Potosi.

Holden Mayberry and Dillon Manion took their pitching talents to Division II colleges. Jace Bland, another team leader, now plays college football.

“We certainly miss last year’s senior class, and there are some definite leadership roles that are available for the taking now,” head coach Ronnie Calvird said.

Four starters are back for Central. Braydon Scherffius remains at third base coming into the season, but can also be utilized as a catcher or outfielder.

Cade Scherffius received all-conference and all-district pitching honors, and becomes the staff ace while also seeing action along the middle infield.

Gage Manion will move up in the batting order and remain a middle infielder, while Drew Hamski helps replenish the outfield. Sam Hart is penciled in as the designated hitter.

Junior Dylan Corcoran returns behind the plate to guide the entire pitching staff. Calvird expects his offseason work to yield marked improvement.

FARMINGTON Knights

2018 Record: 7-18 (1-4 MAAA Large)

Head Coach – Scott Hibbits

Key Returners: Noah Bellew, sr., OF; Hunter Peirce, sr., 2B; Chad Silvey, sr., C; Jaysen Mattingly, sr., P

Season Outlook:

Farmington coach Scott Hibbits expects a host of juniors and sophomores to continue improving and contribute to the team’s success.

Center fielder Noah Bellew, second baseman Hunter Peirce and catcher Chad Silvey provide three experienced bats while contributing pitching depth.

Jaysen Mattingly will be counted on heavily from the mound, and will also see time at first base for the Knights.

“It will take a complete team effort for us to get some wins with the schedule that we play,” Hibbits said. “And we are looking forward to the challenge.”

FREDERICKTOWN Blackcats

2018 Record: 8-11 (0-5 MAAA Large)

Head Coach – Scott Davis

Key Returners: Colton Rehkop, sr., C; Logan Winkelman, sr., SS; Clark Penuel, sr., P; Noah Korokis, sr., CF; Dylan Stafford, sr., P; Braeden Stockmann, sr., OF

Season Outlook:

Fredericktown gets a change of postseason scenery after being assigned to Class 4, District 1 each year since 2013. The Blackcats move shift north this spring, joining for conference rivals within District 2.

Five seniors graduated, but Fredericktown has a strong group of returning talent. Colton Rehkop earned all-district and all-MAAA honors behind the plate as a junior, and can provide innings on the mound.

Clark Penuel and Dylan Stafford both pitch, but can expect starts at the corner infield positions.

Logan Winkelman, last year's pitching ace, will be stationed at shortstop after suffering an arm injury during the offseason.

KINGSTON Cougars

2018 Record: 6-13 (0-5 MAAA Small)

Head Coach – Larry Nettles

Key Returners: Keith Jessen, jr., P; Kyle Vandergriff, jr., C; Lane Barton, jr., SS/OF; Troy Gildehaus, jr., 3B

Season Outlook:

Kingston hopes to rebound in the MAAA Small-School division after a tough 2018 campaign.

Pitcher Alex Wilson graduated after starting all four years on the varsity squad, as did three-year starting center fielder Kielan Reyes.

The Cougars return second team all-conference and all-district junior Keith “Boots” Jessen to the mound as the ace of the rotation. He will also find time manning shortstop and third base.

Kyle Vandergriff made the all-district team as a sophomore, and will retain the starting catching duties while sharing time on the hill.

Lane Barton will land somewhere near the middle of the order, while Troy Gildehaus gains a more prominent role in the rotation.

NORTH COUNTY Raiders

2018 Record: 16-11 (4-1 MAAA Large)

Head Coach – Chris McLain

Key Returners: Kolten Poorman, sr., SS/P; Cody Hubbard, sr., 2B; Noah Mesey, sr., OF; Cole Ziegler, sr., CF

Season Outlook:

North County began 2018 hot, winning seven of its first 10 games and five in a row. The season ended in extra-inning heartbreak against eventual Class 4, District 2 champion Potosi.

The Raiders graduated nine seniors, including catcher Drew Forney, shortstop Briley Smith and Mineral Area College pitcher Sean Pruneau.

Kolten Poorman returns for his senior campaign after signing to play baseball for Three Rivers next year.

“We are going to be leaning heavily on our upperclassmen, not only for what they bring on the field physically,” coach Chris McLain said, “but mentally getting our team focused and keeping everyone hooked up for seven innings.”

McLain also added that the Raiders need to see production form sophomores and incoming freshmen to be competitive.

North County will not be able to depend on the long ball, instead looking to lean on fundamentals.

Another big task for the offense is cutting down the number of strikeouts, by putting the ball in play and and applying pressure on opposing defenses.

Two starting pitchers return for the Raiders while the relievers are asked to relieve some of their workload.

POTOSI Trojans

2018 Record: 18-11 (2-3 MAAA Large)

Head Coach – Steve McCoy

Key Returners: Noah Jacobsen, sr., SS; Ryker Walton, soph., P; Ethan Dicus, sr., DH

Season Outlook:

Potosi found its stride in the second half of last season, and knocked off top seed Ste. Genevieve, North County and Central to claim its first district title since 2015.

Garrett Wilkinson was the ace for the Trojans, who reached the Class 4 quarterfinals with a triumph over Notre Dame.

Slugger Bailey Crump compiled 30 RBIs and seven home runs, while batting leadoff in 2018. His spot will need to be filled this spring.

Shortstop Noah Jacobsen returns for his senior season, and has been one of the best players in the MAAA over the past two seasons.

Ryker Walton comes into his sophomore season and will log significant time from the mound along with Jacobsen.

Ethan Dicus emerged from an injury early last spring as a threat at the plate. He will bat in the middle of the order with more chances to drive in runs.

Potosi will be young at certain positions, but coach Steve McCoy expects the players to step up and fill those vacancies.

STE. GENEVIEVE Dragons

2018 Record: 18-6 (4-1 MAAA Large)

Head Coach – Mike McDaniel

Key Returners:

Chad Donze, sr., P/1B; Brady Boyer, sr., CF; Derek Morganthaler, sr., P/OF; Grant Staffen, sr., 2b; Chase Koller, sr., INF; Logan Gegg, sr., INF

Season Outlook:

Ste. Genevieve shared the MAAA Large-School title and won the conference tournament last spring before suffering a crushing defeat to Potosi in the district semifinal round.

The Dragons being back arguably the top pitching combo in the league with seniors Derek Morganthaler and Chad Donze, along with center fielder Brady Boyer. All three have already signed with junior colleges.

The Dragons are going to be relying on their large senior group while juniors and sophomores add flexibility.

While Ste. Gen was carried by pitching and defense, head coach Mike McDaniel said the offense could not find consistency last season.

“I really believe we can be a dangerous team this year,” McDaniel said. “But to be successful, it’s going to take doing the little things right, especially on the offensive side of the ball.”

VALLE CATHOLIC Warriors

2018 Record: 25-9 (5-0 MAAA Small)

Head Coach – Nathan Gegg

Key Returners: Tyler Blum, sr., SS; Carter Roth, sr., CF; Kellen Blum, sr. P.; Kyle Roth, jr.; Nolan Schwent, sr., P; Aaron Doza, sr., 1B; Zach Grein, sr., DH

Season Outlook:

Valle Catholic capped last season with its fifth state championship in school history and a nine-game win streak.

The feat was accomplished with two seniors in the starting lineup, leaving high expectations as the Warriors hope to repeat.

Pitching star Chris Loida will be missed. His prowess from the mound helped Valle through the playoffs with three brilliant performances.

The Warriors return seven of their nine hitters, including Tyler Blum, Carter Roth, Kellen Bloom and Kyle Roth, who all earned All-State honors.

Valle Catholic faces another challenging schedule by design, including fellow state-playoff qualifiers Potosi, Jackson, Notre Dame, Cooter, Valley Park, Oran, Valmeyer (Ill.) and chief conference rival West County.

The Warriors have won a remarkable 89 consecutive regular-season games in the MAAA Small-School division.

VALLEY Vikings

2018 Record: 9-7 (1-4 MAAA Small)

Head Coach – Trent Hartley

Key Returners: Keeton Loughary, sr., P; Ethan Matthews, jr., INF

Season Outlook:

Valley earned the top seed in the Class 1, District 3 tournament last spring, but was knocked off upstart Oak Ridge.

Thaddeus Heifner leaves an open spot at shortstop, while catcher Trent McClain, Blake Rawlins and Blake Boyer also graduated.

Keeton Loughary will be the returning ace and key bat. He pitched the Vikings to a district title two years ago.

Junior Ethan Matthews returns as the leading hitter. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, his batting average hovered between .350 and .400.

Valley will face new district opponents this spring after being moved to Class 2, District 4.

WEST COUNTY Bulldogs

2018 Record: 17-5 (4-1 MAAA Small)

Head Coach – John Simily

Key Returners: Zach Francis, sr., P/SS; Ty Simily, sr., 1B; Hayden Roney, sr. P/SS; Dakota Dowd, jr., 3B; Dake McRaven, sr., OF; Tanner Morgan, jr., INF; Peyton Nipper, sr., OF; Luke Gaia, jr., INF

Season Outlook:

West County began the season 8-2 and continued that success to the state quarterfinals after claiming a second consecutive Class 3, District 3 title.

Seven starters return overall for the Bulldogs, who are primed for another deep push if they can remain healthy.

Zach Francis, Hayden Roney and Dakota Dowd have each starred in big games on the mound, giving coach John Simily plenty of options.

Ty Simily provides an all-state caliber bat while Dake McRaven and Peyton Nipper occupy a skilled outfield.

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Jared Pettus is a sports reporter for the Daily Journal He can be reached at jpettus@dailyjournalonline.com.

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