Preseason Countdown No. 1 Cherokee Trail

By PBR Staff

Leading up to the start of the high school season, we will count down the Top 50 preseason teams every day as part of our comprehensive season coverage. The Top 50 teams are picked from all classifications, and are not divided up by class level. To see the entire list click here   

Team: Cherokee Trial
Preseason Rank: 1
2016 Record: 22-5
Conference: Centennial
CHSAA Class: 5A
Head Coach: Alan Dyer
Playoff Run: Defeated Rocky Mountain 9-4 to win the 5A State Championship.
2016 Final Rank: 1
Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers: 2

Eric Cox, No. 26 2017 (Metro State)
Nick Perez, No. 27 2017
Michael Morris, No. 39 2017
Conner Nantkes, No. 364 overall and No. 5 CO 2017 (Washington State)
Tyler Lederhos, 2017

Blake Mackintosh, No. 14 2018
Jake Barber, 2018
Isaac Hayen, 2018

Jerome Bohannon
Ryan Sullivan
Matt Meraz
Keven Mackintosh

Stat Rat:  
The Cougars racked up 105 extra base hits in 2016, this puts them in a position to score runs in bunches.

Bottom Line:  
Cherokee Trail was good in 2016, to think going into the post season they would be the last one standing may have been a stretch, but they played their best baseball when it mattered most and came away with the 5A State Championship defeating Rocky Mountain 9-4 at All-City Field.  The Cougars who entered the post season last year as the 13 seed will not have the luxury of sneaking up on anyone in 2017, they will have the bullseye on their back from game one.  The 2017 team returns a strong offensive lineup led by, Metro State commit, Eric Cox, .394 with 37 hits, 25 RBI and 6 stolen bases, Nick Perez, .447 with 38 hits and 22 RBI and Michael Morris who added 28 hits in 2016 with 8 doubles.  At some point this season, the lineup will get an extra boost when Conner Nantkes returns, 2016 saw him hit .449 with 40 hits, 22 RBI and 10 doubles.  Pitching will be a key factor in determining the success Cherokee Trail has in defending their championship.  Several key players lost to graduation made up the bulk of their innings in 2016, couple that with Nantkes being out for the beginning of the season and the Cougars will need to rely on some new arms in 2017.  Tyler Lederhos is coming off a 3-0 year where he made 6 appearances for the Cougars.  When Washington State commit Conner Nantkes does return to the mound, he will look to build on off his 2016 season that saw him throw 56 innings and collect 51 K’s.  Look for Blake Mackintosh, Jake Barber and Isaac Hayen to see their roles increase in 2017 and be called upon to be every day contributors.  This is a well coached team and a program with that has enjoyed success from its beginning in 2003.  This 2017 roster seems ready to take on all challengers and to make another run at the 5A State Championship.