Late February marked the beginning of the high school baseball regular season. West Valley Preps asked coaches in Glendale and Peoria to take a look at their teams:
Deer Valley Skyhawks
4A West Valley Region Coach: Greg Rice (eighth year as coach). 2022 Record: 16-9, 8-2 region (reached first round of 4A playoffs) Top Returnees: Alex Sanchez, Sr., SS (.536, 20 RBI, 25 runs) Tanner Theall, Jr., SS/P (1.47 ERA, 38 K in 38 IP) What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? The team's best attribute will our competivness and pitching. The players are a close group that has several two-sport athletes that want to compete and play hard together. The pitching will keep us in games with serveral strong arms, including junior Cody Campbell, and sophomores Nathan Gentz, Kaleb Kompoltowicz and Carter Reitz. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to eliminate the defensive mistakes and don't give teams extra outs. We have some young players getting some opportunities like freshmen Jayden Hosey and Maxton Weaver. They will be key to our success this season. I am excited about the young players in the program at all levels, they all have worked hard this off season. Who are your team leaders? Team leaders are (captain) Alex Sanchez, (captain) Casey Parks, Tanner Theall and Dylan English. They have done a great of building team chemistry and leading by example. Alex was the region offensive player of the year last season. Casey is at first base and is a two-sport athlete with wrestling and baseball. Tanner will be strong for us on the mound again this season. Tanner was a 1st team all-region pitcher. We are looking for Dylan to have another great season at the plate and he will be catchinig this season.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Sophomore Jackson Fellens is moving from catcher to the outfield and will be a big contributer at the plate. Sophomore Kaleb Kompoltowicz is a pitcher and outfielder and then our two freshmen will start for us. They are IF/P Jayden Hosey and IF/OF Maxton Weaver. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? For us to make the state tournament we will have to make sure to get run support for our pitching staff. We have to play together and smart this season. We have a challenging schedule and have to play consistant baseball to reach our goal of the State Tournament.
Glendale Prep Griffins
2A Central Region Coach: Rafael Sanchez (fifth year as head coach) 2022 Record: 13-6 overall, 12-5 regular season (reached first round of 2A playoffs) Who are your top returning players? Logan Middendorf RHP/UT sophomore (.472, 25 RBI, 21 runs, 4-1, 3.73 ERA, 49 K in 30 IP) Josh Rickey C sophomore (.360, 13 RBI, 24 runs), Josiah Simms SS sophomore (.299. 16 RBI, 18 runs) What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have a lot of returning young players who have a hunger to return to the playoffs. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to pitch a little more efficiently than we did last season, as well as work to move runners over a lot more. Who are your team leaders? Our team is special in that we have no seniors this year, so our young returners have really stepped up collectively to help make us the best team we can possibly be. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Corbin and Casey Kim will make huge impacts on our season this year.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? In order for us to return to the playoffs this year, we will need our freshmen and former JV players to adjust to the speed of the Varsity level quickly and our young core from last year need to continue progressing as the season grows.
Liberty sophomore Gerardo Gonzalez makes contact with a Sunrise Mountain pitch while Mustangs catcher Easton Talt is set up during a Duel on the Diamond game April 25, 2022 at Peoria Stadium. (MDB Photography/For West Valley Preps)
6A Desert Valley Region Coach: Chris Raymond (Seventh year at Liberty).
2022 Record: 13-15, 3-7 region (Reached 6A play in) Top Returnees: Max Charles SS/P, Jr. (.441, 4 HR, 10 2B, 25 RBI, 2-3, 4.12); Gerardo Gonzalez UT/P, Jr. (.362, 14 RBI, 3-0, 2.04, 26 K in 24 IP) What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our greatest attributes is the ability to work hard day in and day out. And our pitching staff of sophomore Andrew Jacobs (U of A commit), Max Charles (LSU commit), Gerardo Gonzalez, and junior Sebastian Galvez. Who are your team leaders? Max Charles and senior Isaiah Nava are two of our leaders Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Lucas Mitchell, a sophomore first baseman off to a 6-11 start. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? We need to concentrate on taking the season one game at a time. Our schedule is very difficult this spring, so every day will be important.
Sunrise Mountain Mustangs
5A Northwest Region Coach: Michael Deardoff (fifth year at Sunrise Mountain, 15th year as head coach) 2022 Record: 26-6, 9-1 region (Reached final six of 5A flayoffs) Top Players: Tanner Milner C/P, Sr. (.297, 7 22 RBI, 2-0, 1.20 ERA in 11 2/3 innings); Tanner Horwath 2B/SS, Sr. (.322, 16 RBI, 32 runs) What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have a group that have played together for a long time so they are familiar with each other and push each other. What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We have a team that doesn’t have a ton of varsity experience so we are looking to improve each day and have new guys step up. Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Connor Mayer and Andrew Balian are both juniors who can have a big impact on our team. What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? We need continue to prove each day and compete at a high level.
Richard Smith Associate Editor | Surprise and West Valley Preps @rsmithYWV
Richard Smith has been with Independent Newsmedia since 2016, and worked at a Sun City-based news outfit covering the Northwest Valley for 22 consecutive years.
An NAU alum and lifelong Arizona resident, Richard began as a copy editor and page designer at Surprise Today and the Daily News-Sun, then rekindled his love of sports writing by taking the reins on West Valley Preps in 2008.
For most of the mid-2010s he was the Surprise editor and West Valley Preps reporter. Now he’s the West Valley Preps Editor and Surprise Associate Editor.
As COVID restrictions slowly lift, Richard is cautiously optimistic he will visit book stores, football fields and gyms again this fall.