West Valley Preps
For the seventh year, West Valley Preps has announced honors for the best baseball players it covers in the Northwest Valley.
Here is the complete All-West Valley Preps baseball team:
C – Ethan Snodgrass (Senior) Sunrise Mountain
1B – Justin Flebbe (Senior) Kellis
2B – Donny Smith (Senior) Deer Valley
SS – Travis Warriner (Junior) Mountain Ridge
3B – Trevor Baugh (Junior) Millennium
OF – Luke Pauga (Senior) Liberty
OF – Jarett Kellerhals (Senior) Sunrise Mountain
OF – Easton Meier (Junior) Northwest Christian
UT – Cameron Torres (Senior) Peoria
P – David Enriquez (Senior) Millennium
P – Caleb Thomason (Senior) Sunrise Mountain
P – Zach Martinez (Senior) Mountain Ridge
C – Taylor Wurtele (Junior) Willow Canyon
1B – Max Nebel (Senior) Northwest Christian
2B – Connor Smith (Senior) Valley Vista
SS – Joey Collier (Sophomore) Paradise Honors
3B – Kyle Lewis (Junior) Liberty
OF – Ryan Ellis (Junior) Mountain Ridge
OF – Cole Tofil (Senior) Millennium
OF – Jackson Brenna (Sophomore) Shadow Ridge
UT – Sam Curran (Senior) Kellis
P – Chandler Murphy (Senior) Liberty
P – Levi Huerta (Junior) Cactus
P – Carter Krosky (Senior) Sunrise Mountain
Underclassmen to watch
Cactus – Travis Myrick OF (Fr.),; Deer Valley – Aaron Nuanez P (Soph.),; Dysart – Matthew Barajas IF (Fr.), Alan Ripalda IF (Soph.); Ironwood – Hayden Moore OF (Soph.),; Liberty – Trevor Toland P (Soph.), Braden Lovett 2B (Soph.); Millennium – Kaleb Duncan OF (Fr.), Connor Hill OF (Soph.); Mountain Ridge – Cayden Collins P (Soph.), A.J. Singer 2B (Fr.); Northwest Christian – Aidan Mosher OF (Soph.), Austin Steel C (Soph.); Paradise Honors – Thomas Spigelmire C (Soph.); Peoria – Adam Flanders P/IF (Fr.), Blayden Sullivan IF (Fr.); Shadow Ridge – Austin Humphres P/OF (Fr.), Treyton Tarver P/1B (Soph.); Sunrise Mountain – Andy Moreno IF (Soph.)., Dawson DeHerrera P (Soph.); Valley Vista – Zach Chelini P/3B (Soph.); Willow Canyon – Matt Carter UT (Soph.).
West Valley Preps baseball player of the year
David Enriquez, Millennium – Millennium made a sweeping debut in 5A, reaching the final six. Enriquez led the Tigers in about every significant category other than slugging and steals — and home runs I guess, though no Millennium player hit more than two. And a .694 slugging percentage is nothing to sneeze at. Enriquez hit .447 with 14 doubles and 35 RBI. Yet he was more known as a pitcher this season, thanks to his outstanding performance. Only one other Tiger had more than half of his 47 innings pitched, yet no one with more than 12 innings came close to Enriquez’s stellar 0.45 ERA. He added 59 strikeouts and gave Millennium an incalcuable swagger every time he pitched.
Runner-up: Caleb Thomason, Sunrise Mountain – As good as Enriquez was across the board, Thomason was not far behind. He hit .417 and drove in 24 runs. But Thomason also was known more as a pitcher than a hitter. He mixed starting outings with relief and pitched 47 1/3 innings in 10 appearances. Thomason finished with an 0.74 ERA while not giving up a home run. Luke Pauga was close to this honor, and probably the top offensive player in the West Valley. But the stellar pitching of Enriquez and Thomason put them over the top.
West Valley Preps baseball coach of the year
Artie Cox, Mountain Ridge – The Mountain Lions looked like they were a year away.But Cox regrouped his young team twice for masterful performances in its two biggest tournaments, the National Classic in Orange County and the 6A baseball bracket. Mountain Ridge claimed the consolation bracket championship in California, then automatically went into a tailspin back home. The team entered the 6A play-in bracket ranked No. 19. But the Mountain Lions’ postseason did not end until the final game before the state finals. Hamilton eventually eliminated the Mountain Lions. Before then, though, Mountain Ridge knocked out Brophy Prep, defending champion and rival O’Connor, other rival Liberty and even gave the Huskies their only loss of the postseason. Cox got the most out of his young team, riding Martinez’s hot postseason and mixing in the pitching in the other games. Plus, this team showed an uncanny knack to keep itself alive when the situation seemed hopeless. Cox also was not afraid to stick with what worked, like moving Ellis, one of the state’s better catchers to the outfield to plug a hole and inserting Garrett Olson behind the plate. While Olson’s numbers do not jump out, he made a number of clutch hits in the playoffs and stayed in the lineup while Ellis remained in the outfield.
Runner-up: Shawn Sullivan, Peoria – The runner up spot was a tough pick, as Jerod Burleson lifted Millennium to the final six in the Tigers first season in 5A — and Charlie Summers got Paradise Honors to the 3A quarterfinals despite taking over the program a week into the regular season. But Sullivan is the pick for one simple reason: No one in the Northwest Valley, except for Nicholas Rizzi at Dysart, coaches in a more difficult place to build a winner. Most of the talent in Peoria is north of the Loop 101 — or ends up playing north of the freeway. Closer to home, Kellis is only two years removed from a state title and Centennial was a contender recently. Meanwhile, the Panthers won 12 games in 2011 and 11 in 2013 — and that’s about it until this year. Sullivan inherited a two-win program and has built it up over four years to the point of reaching the 4A play-in round this year. It was Peoria’s first postseason game of any kind since 2007. And while the Panthers will miss Torres, their leader and top player, he was the only senior starter. And Sullivan’s 14-12 squad finished the season 5-0.