Varsity Extra

Varsity Extra baseball: Rocky Mountain favored in 5A SIC

The Rocky Mountain High baseball team has rolled to a 14-0 start after a 5-0 win over Columbia on Tuesday, beating opponents by a combined score of 121-29. It entered the season as a heavy favorite, earning 10-of-12 first-place votes in a preseason poll among 5A SIC baseball coaches. But as the district tournament approaches in May, defending state champ Capitol and other teams in the conference will have plenty to say. A look at 5A and 4A baseball:

 

5A SIC

Everyone is looking up at Rocky Mountain, which is 14-0 one month into the season and showing no signs of slowing down. The Grizzlies are loaded with four returning first-team all-conference picks — shortstop Jackson Cluff (committed to BYU), catcher JT Strickler and pitchers Ryan Beard and Matt Roll.

Here is a look at the conference, which took first, second and third at state last year, ordered by the results of a coaches poll and with first-place votes in parenthesis.

1. ROCKY MOUNTAIN (10)

Loaded on the mound, in the field and at the plate with eight seniors returning from last year’s state tournament qualifier.

2. TIMBERLINE (1)

Ryan Kim (committed to Washington State) and Parker Price look to lead the Wolves back from a rare down season.

3. MERIDIAN (1)

Nine seniors, six college commits and a second-place finish at the AA Legion state tourney last year have hopes high.

4. CAPITAL

Former assistant coach Tony Brulotte takes over the defending state champs, who feature an ace in lefty Colbi Paul.

5. EAGLE

The defending district champ remains strong up the middle with Kam Lane (a Washington State commit) in center field and Taylor Brooks at shortstop.

6. MOUNTAIN VIEW

Last year’s third-place state finisher is young but remains strong in the outfield with Auggie Francis, Nick Flesher and James Lamb.

7. VALLIVUE

The Falcons are potent at the plate with Tanner Vogt, who hit .404 last year, and big boppers in Tyler Laird and Esai Longoria.

8. BORAH

The Lions lost seven seniors to graduation, but a junior-heavy roster has started the year hot at 12-1.

9. BOISE

A young roster features two seniors and seven players starting at new positions at the varsity level.

10. CENTENNIAL

The Patriots have to grow up in a hurry after losing 12 seniors to graduation and Jace DeGrange to injury.

11. COLUMBIA

The Wildcats won the 4A consolation title during its second trip to state last year. Now, it’s in 5A.

12. NAMPA

Braydon Torres-Moore (committed to CSI) remains one of the top catchers in the Valley, no matter the classification.

 

4A SIC

The 4A ranks remains more muddled than the 5A, with Skyview taking the top spot in a coaches poll by one point over Bishop Kelly.

1. SKYVIEW (3)

Lefty pitcher Sage Diehm (committed to North Carolina) draws the attention. But the Hawks also return big bats in Kody Graves and Rhys Vickers.

2. BISHOP KELLY (3)

Started slow at 2-8. But two future college pitchers — lefty Tyler Oldenberg (Washington) and righty Jake Eddy (College of Idaho) — should right the ship.

3. CALDWELL

Jordan Britton, who had a 1.19 ERA in 2014, leads the rotation. But wins will hinge on improvement at the plate.

4. MIDDLETON

Graduation robbed the Vikings of eight seniors and three first-team all-conference picks, but sophomore pitcher Trevor Lara is raising eyebrows.

5. KUNA

The Kavemen will have to bounce back from a 9-15 campaign with no returning all-conference members.

6. MOUNTAIN HOME

The Tigers lost seven one-run games last year during a 7-15 season. Eight returning seniors should flip that luck.

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