By DAVE BELCHER
Moapa Valley Progress
The Moapa Valley High School Varsity Baseball team qualified for the NIAA 3A state tournament last year. The 2017 team finished with a 9-1 league record and were the top seed from the Sunrise. They had entered the state tournament as the second seed from the south after Boulder City beat the Pirates twice in the final series of the regional tournament.
Last year was only the second time the Pirates had qualified for the state tournament since 2001. They qualified in 2012 as well.
Moapa Valley had beaten the Eagles in the regional semi-finals 6-4 last year. Then Boulder City got hot and came through the loser’s bracket. They beat Moapa Valley twice, 6-5 then 10-7, to win the regional tournament and the top seed from the south. Boulder City had been the state runner-up in 2013 and again in 2011.
The Pirates played Spring Creek in the first round of the state tournament losing to the Spartans 3-2. They beat Elko eliminating the Indians in the loser’s bracket. Then they lost to Spring Creek by ten runs in the third game, 17-7, an elimination game.
The Pirates will sorely miss Anthony Cornwall who was second team all-state. Cornwall hit .581 with 5 homeruns and 35 RBI’s. He stole 26 bases.
But the Pirates will return Daxton Longman who hit .483 last year. He drove home 30 RBI’s while hitting 9 doubles and 3 triples.
Hunter Winnski, a junior, will return with his batting average of 338.
Chase Guessman, a senior, returns with a batting average of .315.
Chase Hadley returns to the pitcher’s mound this year, as well as Luke Bennett.
The Pirates will have a new head coach this year. Last year’s coach, Ed McCann moved on to coach at Boulder City. Replacing McCann will be Darin Hadley.
“We are looking forward to another strong season,” Hadley said. “WE hope to keep the momentum from last season going and with the dedicated and hard-working group of guys taht we have, I believe that we can do just that and be successful!”
The league is wide open as all six teams from the Sunrise will be competitive and figure to challenge for the two seeds to the state tournament.
The Pirates start the season this week in Hurricane Utah with Granger high school from Salt Lake City on Friday. They will then play Saturday at Pineview High School at 9am in the same tournament.
The first home game will be Wednesday, March 14 against Sunrise Mountain at 3:30.