Coach: Ed Nelson (2nd season)
Last season: 6-12
Key athletes: Jarrett McDonald, sr.; Seth Whiteside, sr.; Peter Duszynski, sr.
Outlook: The Lions look to improve behind McDonald, who is one of their best offensive weapons, as well as the team's top returning pitcher. CSCS has just four seniors on the team, with the rest of the roster comprised of underclassmen, so the Lions will need their young players to produce to compete in the Tri-Peaks League.
Coach: Rob Quarry (7th season)
Last season: 12-7, lost in district title game
Key athletes: Ryan Adamscheck, jr., P/OF; Billy Ryan, jr., P/C; Dominic Archuleta, so., P/IF; Travis Struble, so., P/IF
Outlook: The Mustangs finished second in the Tri-Peaks West behind TCA last season and fell one win short of making the state tournament, losing 6-5 to Brush in the district championship. The Mustangs are once again a talented squad and will boast one of the best pitching staffs in the city. Look for Manitou Springs to be in the top three of the Tri-Peaks West, and the Mustangs could very well end up at the top spot if they stay healthy.
The Classical Academy
Coach: Justin Ross (2nd season)
Last season: 14-6, lost in district title game
Key athletes: McKinnon Walker, sr., SS/P; Matt King, sr., P; Peter Troupe, jr., OF; Logan Grizzell, jr., 2B; Trent Warren, jr., 1B/LF
Outlook: The Titans went 10-0 in the Tri-Peaks West regular season last year and have had their two best seasons in school history the past two years. TCA will be looking to take things a step further in 2014, hoping to make it to the 3A state quarterfinals for the first time in school history. With a senior-laden group, if the Titans can survive a tough league schedule they may be able to advance to state.
Not reporting: Florence
Coach: Bill Percy (8th season)
Last season: 12-9, lost in district championship
Key athletes: Nathan Pierce, so., C/OF, 2013 honorable mention all-state, first team Tri-Peaks (.412 BA, 12 RBIs); Ian Manzo, sr., P/OF, first team Tri-Peaks; Kasey Nusbaum, so., IF, (.426 BA, 19 RBIs); Brad Fanelli, sr., OF/P, 2013 honorable mention Tri-Peaks; Kenny Slominski, sr., P/OF
Outlook: Last season, the Pirates lost to eventual 3A state champion Holy Family in the district championship. St. Mary's opens the season with a nonconference game against powerhouse Eaton and then gets into 3A Tri-Peaks East play, where it shared the league title with La Junta in 2013. The Pirate Spring Invitational, March 20-22 at the Grace Center, again includes a field loaded with 3A and 4A playoff teams from 2013.
Not reporting: Ellicott
2A Black Forest
Coach: Donovan Mitchell (1st season)
Last season: 7-11
Key athletes: Matt Brown, sr., P; Juston Scott, sr., P; Wyatt Helton, sr., OF; Taylor Thoman, so., Util
Outlook: The Bulldogs return every player from last season's roster and add three players from Miami-Yoder. Calhan will have more depth than ever and, with some experience playing together, should be a solid team. This season, the Bulldogs will be playing for junior Jourdan Ellis - who was paralyzed in a car accident last year and will serve as an honorary captain this season.
Coach: Bob DeRuiter (8th season)
Last season: 10-11, lost in district semis
Key athletes: David Schipper, sr., P/IF/C (.466 BA, 4-5 W/L); Alex Gergen, so., C/IF (.379 BA); Jacob Kohl, so., IF (.333 BA); Matt Childress, sr., IF (.317 BA)
Outlook: The Eagles will be a young team with two seniors, one junior and the rest underclassmen. ECA started last season 1-7 before rallying to win nine of its last 13 games. DeRuiter guided last year's team to the district semifinals, despite having only four players with high school experience. The Eagles will rely on their younger players for production and hope to finish with a winning record.
Coach: Kelly Nickell (13th season)
Last season: 16-6, lost in regional semis
Key athletes: Tyler Lashley, sr., P/C, first team all-conference, honorable mention all-state (.355 BA, 34 R, 24 SB, 3.16 ERA 6W-3L 59 K); Evan Finley, so., P/C/IF, first team all-conference, honorable mention all-state (.487 BA, 39 R, 18 SB, 1.50 ERA 4W-0L 50 K); Isaac Coover, sr., OF, first team all-conference (.434 BA, 27 RBI); Daniel Aragon, jr., IF, first-team all-conference (.420 BA, 22 R); Seth Holtzclaw, jr., P/IF (3.23 ERA)
Outlook: The Panthers return a wealth of talent from a team that went 10-2 in conference play last season and finished behind only Kiowa. Behind Lashley - one of the best players in the state - Peyton is a front-runner for the 2A Black Forest title and will have a great chance to advance further into the state tournament this year.
Pikes Peak Christian
Coach: Doug Miller (4th season)
Last season: 1-14
Key athletes: Seth Euken, sr., SS/P; Alex Miller, C/P
Outlook: While last season was a long one, Doug Miller was proud of how his team handled itself. "... They stuck together and supported each other even when winning was hard to come by," he said. Euken and Miller will lead the Eagles from the mound.
JUSTIN SHAW, THE GAZETTE