Video: Early Contenders - #5 Hamilton (AZ)
Check out the fun as we went to Arizona to feature the No. 5 Huskies.Head coach:
Mike Woods2015-16 record:
27-7, Division 1 state champions, No. 18 national rankingState Association:
Arizona Interscholastic AssociationEnrollment:
If you have to pick a team of the 21st century in Arizona, you start the selection process in Chandler at Hamilton High School.
The Huskies have become a powerhouse under the watch of longtime coach Mike Woods, winning five state championships over the past 16 seasons while reaching the finals three other times. Woods has had close to 20 players drafted during that stretch with many more also finding some time at various levels of professional baseball.
And the Huskies aren't finished. After winning a state championship in 2016, they appear poised to win another one in 2017. The possible back-to-back titles would match the two straight they won in 2003 and 2004. Coach Woods has five position players returning, led by MaxPreps National Junior Player of the Year Nick Brueser, along with nearly every starting pitcher.
As a result, Hamilton begins the 2017 season as the No. 5 team in the MaxPreps Preseason Xcellent 25 National Baseball Rankings.
Brueser is the heavy favorite to earn State Player of the Year honors and he also has a shot at National Player of the Year as well. A Stanford commit, Brueser is ranked as one of the nation's top first basemen and is a potential high pick in the Major League Baseball Draft in June.Gallery: Hamilton preseason Top 25 Early Contenders photo shoot
The Huskies will get a good test in late March when they head to the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C. There, they could face the likes of national powers American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), Huntington Beach (Calif.), Orange Lutheran (Calif.) and preseason No. 1 Archbishop McCarthy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).
Hamilton will get a good workout heading into the NHSI, as it plays three of the top teams in Arizona over a three-day span in mid-March. The Huskies play Perry (ranked No. 6 last year), Corona del Sol (No. 4) and Mountain Ridge (last year's state runner-up) March 15-17.Players to watch
Nick Brueser (1B, Senior)
- Batted .442, 13 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, 47 RBIs ... Gatorade State Player of the Year... MaxPreps Junior All-American ... Committed to Stanford.
Drew Swift (SS/RHP, Senior)
- Batted .404, 6 doubles, 3 triples, 44 runs, 24 RBIs ... First team All-State ... Committed to Arizona State.Cole Bellinger (2B/RHP, Senior)
- Batted .391, 16 doubles, 3 home runs, 33 RBIs, 6-1 pitching record, 2.57 ERA ... Second team All-State ... Son of former Yankees player Clay Bellinger, brother of Dodgers prospect Cody Bellinger ... Committed to Grand Canyon University.Brayden Merritt (OF, Senior)
- Batted .402, 7 doubles, 23 RBIs, 32 runs ... First team All-Region ... Committed to University of New Mexico.Colton Snelling (OF, Senior)
- Registered a .318 on-base percentage ... Committed to Fordham.Ryan Luse (RHP, Senior)
- Compiled a 2-0 pitching record, 2.42 ERA.Storylines
* Brueser could be in contention for the national home run title in 2017. Last summer during the MLB All-Star weekend, Brueser won the high school home run derby in San Diego. He hit nine home runs in both his junior and sophomore years while winning All-American honors both seasons.
* The Huskies have won five state championships under Woods, who went over 400 all-time wins in 2015. Hamilton won state crowns in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2014 and 2016 and also reached the finals in 2005, 2009 and 2011 under Woods. Hamilton is in a new classification this year, with Arizona changing Division 1 to Class 6A. The Huskies return five position players and 14 wins from the pitching staff.
March 15 - vs. Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.)
- The Pumas finished No. 6 in the state last season.
March 16 - vs. Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.)
- A rematch of the Division 1 state finals.
March 17 - vs. Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.)
- The Aztecs finished No. 4 in the state last season.
March 23 – vs. Perry (Gilbert, Ariz.)
March 29-April 1 - at National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C.