Mountain Pointe could be the mystery team of the newly restructured East Valley Region this season.
The Pride will only return four starters from a team that went 16-16 and made it to the 5A-I playoffs last year.
“Most teams don’t know what we have this year,” said Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck. “But we’ve got some good kids returning in key spots and younger guys who are pretty good athletes.”
The Pride opponents most likely already have a scouting report on returning starters like juniors Kevin Cron and Jordan Kipper as well as seniors Josh Alexander and Joey Rocha.
Alexander, who has signed to play at University of Utah next season, had a .438 batting average and drove in 36 runs last season.
Cron batted .374 with a team-high 11 home runs and Rocha had a .372 batting average while driving in 22 runs.
Kipper hit.265, but had a 3.92 Earned Run Average over 44 innings on the mound.
The Pride will have 12 seniors in the lineup this season.
“When you have that many seniors you have great leadership,” Buck added, “and when you combine that with a great bunch of kids you have nothing to worry about.”
The Pride will also have 13 players who can be on the mound this season.
“We’ve got a lot of arms so it’s going to be tough for some of them to get into a game,” Buck added, “but we’re going to give guys an opportunity.”
That could come in the annual Mesquite/Gilbert Invitational over the spring break next week when the Pride are scheduled to play five games over four days.
“Those aren’t power point games so it will give us a chance to mix and match,” Buck added.
He likely isn’t going to pull back the cloak on what he has until the Pride get into region play and even that league, cobbled together from other conferences, could be a bit of a puzzle, at least early in the season.
Moving out of the former Central Region where the Pride won seven conference titles, Mountain Pointe gets to see teams like Tempe Marcos de Niza, Mesa Westwood and Skyline, Gilbert Perry and Desert Ridge as well as Casa Grande.
“It’s a good baseball league and pretty competitive,” Buck said.
Marcos won the state 5A-II baseball championship three years ago and Desert Ridge earned the 5A-II title last season before moving up a notch this year.
Playing in a new region means that the Pride won’t be playing the usual three-game series with rival Desert Vista this season.
However, they will see each other under the lights on Thursday, April 15 in Mesa’s HoHoKam Stadium, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs.
Last season the Pride got to play in two playoffs games before being eliminated, but Buck said that experience is valuable for the returning players this season.
“Anytime you get into a playoff tournament it’s a big deal,” Buck said. “Those four guys know what it’s like and we’re looking for leadership from them this year.”