Best high school baseball team in each state

Kevin Askeland | Friday, February 1, 2019

American Heritage, Argyle and Valley Christian among nation's best teams in their respective states.

Defending state champions are the order of the day when looking at the top baseball teams heading into the 2019 season. MaxPreps presents a look at the top baseball team from each state.

Bob Jones (Madison), 36-14
The Patriots reached the Class 7A state semifinals with a lineup consisting mostly of sophomores. Rising juniors Dylan Ray (OF), Caden Rose (UT) and Cam Hill (DH) all made first team All-State, while catcher John Michael Riley (senior) and second baseman Mitchell Daly (junior) were honorable mention All-State.

Juneau-Douglas (Juneau), 18-8

The Crimson Bears have been on a tear lately. Along with winning a state title at the high school level, Juneau-Douglas also advanced to the Northwest Regionals in American Legion.

Hamilton (Chandler), 19-12
The Huskies have won multiple state championships under longtime coach Mike Woods and he has another senior-laden team with plenty of depth. Six starters return, including two of the team's top pitchers in Shane Murphy and team MVP Dustin Bermudez. All-State outfielder Michael Brueser is also back, while sophomore Brock Selvidge, an LSU commit, is player to watch on the mound and in the outfield.

Har-Ber (Springdale), 31-4
The Class 7A state champions in 2018 after a runner-up finish in 2017, Har-Ber has a good chance to repeat in 2019. All-American candidate Blake Adams is back after going 7-2 with 89 strikeouts. He's joined by Landon McAllister, who was 7-0.

Valley Christian (San Jose), 29-3-1
The Warriors were ranked No. 1 in the nation in the MaxPreps computer rankings and return four of the top players from that team including two of the top sophomores in California in infielders Jonathan Cymrot and Trevor Haskins. Coleman Brigman, an All-State outfielder last year.
Coleman Brigman, Valley Christian
File photo by Darryl De Fiore
Coleman Brigman, Valley Christian
Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch), 26-1
The Golden Eagles won the Class 5A state championship last year and finished the season ranked No. 8 in the Xcellent 50. State MVP Sam Ireland returns after belting 11 home runs last year. He also won 11 games on the mound. A total of seven starters return and they accounted for a total of 35 home runs.

Cheshire, 20-4
Won its first state title in over 20 years in 2018 and coach Bill Mrowka was the state Coach of the Year. His  team could make another run as five starters return, including all-state pick Ryan Strollo.

Dover, 14-6
The surprise of the state tournament last year as they upset No. 1 William Penn in the first round and advanced to the semifinals before falling to Cape Henlopen. The Senators return one of the state's top players in junior all-state pitcher Dominic Velazquez.

American Heritage (Plantation), 24-4
The Patriots began the 2018 season at No. 1, but were eventually eliminated in the regional playoffs. Although two MLB draft picks are gone (Tristan Casas, Cory Acton), American Heritage has a strong group of pitchers returning in senior Ryan Cabarcas and sophomore Devin Futrell. The Patriots have two outstanding junior prospects in first baseman Gavin Casas and outfielder Enrique Bradfield.

Blessed Trinity (Roswell), 34-5
The Titans stumbled in the Class 4A state semifinals, but return a number of the top players from a team that went 34-5 last year and was ranked among the top teams in the nation. MaxPreps Junior All-American CJ Abrams is back at shortstop and is one of the top draft prospects for 2019. He's joined by All-State outfielder Steele Chambers and sophomore pitcher DJ Radtke.

'Iolani (Honolulu), 17-6-1

After reaching the state semifinals last year, 'Iolani could be in for bigger things this year. The Raiders return a pair of All-State players in catcher Micah Yonamine and outfielder Shane Sasaki. Perfect Game ranks Sasaki as one of the top 100 players in the country.

Rocky Mountain (Meridian), 24-5

The Grizzlies were the favorite in last year's state playoffs, but suffered a first-round loss to Post Falls. They rebounded to win the next two games to win the consolation. Rocky Mountain returns the state's top player in Gabriel Hughes, who was the Gatorade State Player of the Year as a junior.

St. Laurence (Burbank), 30-8
The Gatorade State Player of the Year Matt McCormick returns to the lineup this year. He's an All-American candidate at catcher. Coach Peter Lotus returns nearly his entire team from a club that won 30 games in 2018. St. Laurence also has one of the top sophomores in the Midwest in South Carolina commit Vytas Valincius.
St. Laurence
File photo by Dean Reid
St. Laurence
Andrean (Merrillville), 32-6
A total of six starters return from last year's state championship team, including All-American pitcher Michael Doolin, who has already committed to Vanderbilt. He went 11-1 last year with 129 strikeouts. Coach Dave Pishkur expects the team to have outstanding starting pitching and good defense.

Haysville Campus (Wichita), 16-8
The Colts made a run in the state playoffs, beating Lawrence Free State before falling to eventual champion Blue Valley. Three All-State players returns, including first teamers Jackson Hartley (P-Ut) and Mateo Martinez (DH) and second team selection Tanner Leslie.

St. Xavier (Louisville), 37-2
The Tigers finished the season with their third state title in the past five years and a No. 5 ranking in the Xcellent 50. Coach Andy Porta returns some of its top offensive performers, including first baseman Ryan Nicholson and catcher Aric Lyons.

Sam Houston (Lake Charles), 33-6
According to coach Chad Hebert, the Broncos could be even better than last year and all they did in 2018 was win 33 games. Sam Houston will have eight returning players including three pitchers who throw in the 90s.

Bangor, 17-1
The Rams won the Class A state title last year and they return one of the state's top players in all-state pitcher Zach Cowperthwaite.

Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro), 32-1
The Crusaders have just five losses over the past three seasons while racking up 97 wins. Last year, Riverdale Baptist finished No. 3 in the Xcellent 50 rankings. While much of the offense will need to be replaced, the pitching staff should be strong, led by junior Jordan Peyton (8-0, 1.49 ERA).

Franklin, 21-5
Franklin won the Super 8 State tournament last year and it returns two of the state's top players in pitcher Bryan Woelfel and infielder Alex Haba, both of whom earned All-State second team honors last year.

St. Mary Prep (Orchard Lake), 18-13-1
The Eaglets advanced to the state semifinals in the Division 2 tournament. They also return one of the state's top players in Dillon Kark.

Stillwater, 21-5-1

The Ponies captured the Class AAA state championship and have two of the state's top players in first team All-State pitcher Drew Gilbert and Oregon State signee Will Frisch.

DeSoto Central (Southaven), 29-9

The Jaguars battled through the playoffs, winning the rubber game of the three-game series three times, including the championship over George County. Blaze Jordan, the MaxPreps Freshman of the Year, returns along with five other starters and 15 pitching wins.

Vianney (Kirkwood), 37-2
The Golden Griffins captured the Class 5 state championship and finished No. 7 in the Xcellent 50 rankings. While state Player of the Year Luke Mann is gone, Vianney returns a pair of All-State players in infielder Nico Hagen and junior outfielder CJ Cepicky.

Creighton Prep (Omaha), 26-5
With three straight Class A state championships, Creighton Prep remains the team to beat in Nebraska until someone proves otherwise.

Palo Verde (Las Vegas), 31-9

After winning the Class 4A state championship last year, Palo Verde got even better thanks to the transfer of Jayden Agassi, son of tennis greats Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, who was previously homeschooled. Agassi ranks as one of the top juniors in the nation. According to coach Joe Hallead, Palo Verde has six pitchers who throw between 89-94 mph. The team's three top offensive players from last year also return in Peyton Cole (.467), Nate Bartlett (.386) and Josiah Cromwick (.369).
Peyton Cole, Palo Verde
File photo by Jules Karney
Peyton Cole, Palo Verde
New Hampshire
Pinkerton (Derry), 17-5
The Astros finished one game away from a state championship, losing to eventual champion Exeter in the Division I semifinals. A pair of All-State players return, however, in junior Asa Runge (5-1, 0.72 ERA) and senior Connor Jenkins (.408).

New Jersey
Delbarton (Morristown), 18-6
The Green Wave finished one win away from the Non-Public A state championship, falling 1-0 to St. Augustine in the championship game. Delbarton returns two of the state's top players, however, in pitcher Jack Leiter, son of former MLB pitcher Al Leiter, and infielder Anthony Volpe.

New Mexico
La Cueva (Albuquerque), 27-3
The Bears have won 10 state championships since 2003 and two in a row over the past two seasons. La Cueva features possibly the state's best player in Ben Schoneman, who batted .382 last year and went 8-1 on the mound.

New York
Monroe Campus (Bronx), 44-4
The PSAL champion last year, Monroe Area returns two of the top pitchers in the city in seniors Angel Ventura (3-1) and Edward Urena Hernandez (12-0).

North Carolina
New Hanover (Wilmington), 28-1
Ranked No. 3 in the Xcellent 50 rankings, New Hanover won the Class 4A state championship. Six of the top eight offensive players from last year return along with pitcher Blake Walston (13-1).

North Dakota
Century (Bismarck), 23-4
The Patriots won their first state championship in school history in 2018, but it might not be their last. State coach of the year Kent Schweigert returns one of the top young talents in the state in junior all-state pitcher Cade Feeny.

Olentangy Liberty (Powell), 30-4
The Patriots won the Division 1 state championship and they return six starters from last year, led by Ohio State signee Mitch Okuley (.362).

Westmoore (Oklahoma City), 33-6
Although the Jaguars lost to Union (Tulsa) in the Class 6A state finals, they return the state's top senior and top junior in pitcher Kale Davis and infielder Jace Bohrofen respectively.

Jesuit (Portland), 23-6
The Crusaders lost in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, but they return two of the state's best players in all-around athlete Will Spitznagel and top-ranked junior Mick Abel.

Malvern Prep (Malvern), 30-7
The Friars had just three seniors who saw substantial playing time last year on a team that won 30 games. Topping the list of returning players is Chris Newell, one of the top players in the state this year after batting .394 with five home runs in 2018.

Rhode Island
South Kingstown (Wakefield), 15-4
The Rebels won the Division 1 state championship last year and could be even better in 2019. A total of three All-State players return, including first team picks Broc French (P) and Blaine Lidsky (C) and second team pick Cole Podedworny (IF).

South Carolina
Bishop England (Charleston), 31-2
The Bishops finished the season ranked No. 23 in the Xcellent 50 rankings after winning the Class AAA state championship. Bishop England returns the state's top player in Geoffrey Gilbert, who earned Gatorade State Player of the Year honors and was a MaxPreps Medium Schools All-American.

South Dakota
Yankton, 9-11
Don't let the losing record fool you, Yankton has some of the best senior talent in the state in All-State selections Kieren Luellman (P), Caid Koletzky (UT) and Ethan Wishon (SS).

Farragut (Knoxville), 34-8
Knocked out of the playoffs prior to the state tournament, Farragut is nonetheless the team to beat in 2019. The Admirals have an extremely deep pitching staff, led by Landon Smiddy, Ryan Hagenow and Drew Patterson. Third baseman Parker Noland, who is headed to Vanderbilt, might be the top player in the state.

Argyle, 37-0

The Eagles finished No. 1 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 50 rankings last year after a 37-0 season and a Class 4A state championship. Argyle returns eight starters from that team, including All-American candidates Brenden Dixon at shortstop, Hayden Clearman in the outfield and Sean Bolin at pitcher.

Jordan (Sandy), 24-6

The Beetdiggers won the Class 5A state championship last year and return three of the team's top hitters, including Jake Shaver (.479), Hunter Swap (.453) and Kyson Stein (.526).

Colchester, 17-5

The Lakers finished just short of a state championship, losing to South Burlington in the title game. Colchester has a chance to make it back to the finals thanks to the return of All-State pitcher Saul Minaya.

Benedictine (Richmond), 24-4

The Cadets handed VISAA state champion St. Christopher's its only loss last year, but was upset in the first round of the state playoffs by Norfolk Academy. Some of the top prospects in Virginia will take the field for Benedictine, including draft prospect Jamari Baylor at shortstop and draft prospect Casey Green at pitcher.

Puyallup, 23-2
Lost just two games last year and has only four losses over the past two seasons. However, Vikings lost to Kentlake in the quarterfinals of the state tournament and saw its season end. They return four starters from that team.

West Virginia
St. Albans, 27-11
St. Albans lost in the state semifinals to Wheeling Park, but the Red Dragons return three players who earned All-State recognition, including first team pitcher Jake Carr, junior first team outfielder Noah Cummings and second team utility Nick Loftis.

Waupun, 25-2
Perennial champions at the high school and legion level, Waupun is the team to beat in Division 2 and possibly the entire state in 2019. Waupun won the state championship in both high school and legion last year and has won a total of four legion state titles since 2013. A total of six players return from last year's squad that won the high school title and was runners-up in 2017.

Note: Montana and Wyoming do play high school baseball; Iowa plays in the summer.
Hayden Clearman, Argyle
File photo by Lester Rosebrock
Hayden Clearman, Argyle