Pitching is typically the vehicle that drives teams to championships. Early in the 2016 season, however, it's offense that's driving teams to the top in the
MaxPreps Utah High School Baseball Rankings
In the latest rankings, updated on March 21, undefeated squads Salem Hills (Salem)
(7-0) and Grantsville
(7-0) in the top two slots. Uintah (Vernal)
, Corner Canyon (Draper)
, and American Fork
rounded out the top five. A common thread between these teams is the presence of quality batters who are among the state leaders in several key hitting categories. Cooper Smith
has been doing damage at the plate for Salem Hills. The senior, who splits time as a pitcher and outfielder, leads the state with 15 runs on 11 hits. Smith has tallied that many runs in 30 plate appearances and 20 at-bats. He bats .550 and boasts a .750 slugging percentage and a .700 on base percentage.
Smith is not alone in powering the Salem Hills offense. Fellow senior Colton Lundell
is enjoying a strong start to the season. Lundell leads Class 4A, and ranks third in the state, with 12 RBIs. He bats .500 and has a .655 on base percentage.
Both players are intimidating enough in the Salem Hills batting order that pitchers try to avoid dealing with them. Smith and Lundell have already been walked a combined 17 times through seven games. Brayden Peterson
and Riley Jensen
have done a good job of scoring runners for Grantsville. The duo have seven RBIs apiece through the team's first seven games, driving in a third of Grantsville's total runs so far this season. They are tied for fifth among Class 3A batters in RBIs.
Corner Canyon has players who rank in the Top 25 statewide in runs, RBIs and on-base percentage. Calvin Millich
leads the way for the Chargers in several categories. The senior leads the team in RBIs (eight), slugging percentage (.600) and batting average (.450).
Strong batting leading to early success is also seen further down the rankings. Sixth-ranked South Sevier (Monroe)
is off to a 9-0 start through continued dominance at the plate. The Rams already have three players who have tallied 10 or more runs through nine games. Cooper Roundy
is tearing up defenses the most consistently in South Sevier's batting order. Roundy ranks second in the state with 14 RBIs and is sixth with 11 total runs. His slugging percentage (.916) ranks fifth while his batting average (.542) and on-base percentage (.621) each rank ninth among Utah high school baseball players.
Defense typically catches up to offense by the time the state playoffs start. But for now, Utah teams with talented hitters are reaping the most benefits early in the spring.John Coon covers Utah High School sports for MaxPreps. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @johncoonsports