Skyview swept the 4A Southern Idaho Conference baseball trophies last season, earning the first 4A regular-season title in school history and winning the district championship for a third straight year.
With a deep and balanced pitching staff, the Hawks — who also took third at state — are favored to add more trophies this season, according to a preseason coaches’ poll. Perennial power Bishop Kelly always remains a threat, and Kuna and Caldwell are within striking distance.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Austin Van Horne, sr., SS/P, Caldwell
The Cougars continue to crank out pitchers with Van Horne entering his senior season.
A reigning first-team all-conference pitcher, the College of Idaho commit went 3-1 with a 0.84 ERA last year while striking out 56 in 33 ⅔ innings. He earned first-team honors as a shortstop two years ago.
“He’s a really good pitcher, shortstop and hitter. He can really do it all,” Skyview coach Ryan Bobo said.
BISHOP KELLY KNIGHTS
Coach: Jeff Cammann, first season
Last year: 12-16, 10-5 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Joe Puzio, sr., C (second team); RJ Syverson, sr., 1B (second team); Jack Fritz, sr., 3B/P (honorable mention)
Breakdown: Cammann takes over after Bishop Kelly went two-and-out at state last year, failing to win a trophy for the first time since 2009. He brings a small-ball style to the Knights. He said he likes the talent, but adds the Knights need to focus on consistency.
Coach: Dan Richardson, fifth season
Last year: 19-11, 10-5 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Austin Van Horne, sr., SS/P (first team); Efrain Garcia, sr., C (honorable mention)
Breakdown: Caldwell lost ace pitcher and conference player of the year Jordan Britton to Oregon State. The Cougars still return plenty of firepower on the mound with their No. 2 and No. 3 starters — Van Horne and Steven Toothman. “They will keep us in ball games and give us a chance,” Richardson said.
Coach: Jesse Dodd, first season
Last year: 13-15, 6-9 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Matt McLean, sr., SS (first team)
Breakdown: Dodd inherits a strong lineup from top to bottom, led by Matt McLean, who switches from second base to shortstop. Dodd is looking for the Kavemen to step it up on defense and add an arm or two at the back end of the rotation.
Coach: Pete Jones, third year
Last year: 9-18, 6-9 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Trevor Lara, jr., P (honorable mention)
Breakdown: A young pitching staff got even younger when Lara underwent knee surgery in the offseason. He starts the year on the bench, though Jones said the pitching staff remains a strength. Sophomore Darin Post saw varsity innings late last year and impressed. “We are looking forward to watching (Post) carry the load of the pitching staff,” Jones said.
MOUNTAIN HOME TIGERS
Coach: Zach Simons, first season
Last year: 3-21, 1-14 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: None
Breakdown: Simons, a Glenns Ferry graduate who played eight years in the minors, takes over a roster of mostly sophomores. “Agewise, we’ll struggle, but their tenacity to compete will keep us in ball games,’’ Simons said.
Coach: Ryan Bobo, 12th season
Last year: 19-9, 12-3 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Cody Balle, jr., SS (honorable mention)
Breakdown: Graduation hit the Hawks hard, robbing Skyview of three first-team all-conference members. The Hawks still return a solid defense and loads of pitching. “Our pitching staff does not have a dominant arm as in years past, but we have more quality arms than we ever had,’’ Bobo said.
Team (1st-place votes)
1. Skyview (5)
2. Bishop Kelly (1)
6. Mountain Home