Prairie View Baseball Preview
Banking on five holder starters and a trio of proven pitchers, Prairie View takes aim on its third straight district championship.
Besides junior Jacob Farrar and sophomore Mason Rogers, a pair of 2018 All-District performers, the Spartans have added senior Luke Denman.
Farrar was 5-2 with a 3.10 ERA and 34 punchouts in 31.2 innings last spring while Rogers went 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 24 frames.
"Both of those guys threw a significant amount of innings last year," Prairie View coach Bo Barton said. "They have picked up where they left off last year."
Denman is a transfer from Sterlington where he was a starting outfielder for the Panthers' 2017 Class 2A state championship and 2018 Class 3A semifinalist teams.
"Luke has been very impressive. He has very good velocity and he's been filling up the strike zone," Barton said. "Our top three guys are solid. In my opinion, the way to win district is to have seven or eight guys who can throw."
Available in relief on the all right-handed staff are seniors Connor Ouellette, Gage Riles and Tyler Peters, freshman Caleb Christmas, eighth grader Sully Edwards.
"Caleb Christmas has made a big jump," Barton said. "Probably the biggest surprise has been Connor Ouellette. Obviously, Luke, Jacob and Mason are going to get the most innings, but the other four or five guys have to be able to come in and throw. They just have to get some reps. We'll see how that plays out."
Riles (.310 batting average, .600 on base percentage) moves behind the plate after starting in the outfield for last year's 16-6 outfit.
The loss of two multi-year All-District honorees, shortstop Tanner Caldwell and first baseman Blake Ray, leaves a void on the infield.
"A lot is going to depend on who's pitching," Barton said of the Spartans' infield alignment.
Sophomore Mason King, Christmas and Farrar are the first basemen.
Ouellette (.302 batting average) has started the past two years at second base, but could slide over to the left side this season. Junior Jaheem Brown and freshman Kaden Griffin are also in the mix.
"Connor's arm has gotten so much stronger, he may be at shortstop," Barton said.
Third base and shortstop will be manned by a combination of Farrar, Denman, Ouellette and Rogers.
"All of those guys are interchangeable between shortstop, second and third," Barton said.
Rogers was the team's leading hitter last year with a .405 batting average, including a .500 mark with runners in scoring position.
Farrar hit .304 with two home runs and a team-best 29 total bases.
Peters is a fixture in the outfield after batting .359 with a .528 on base percentage, .564 slugging rate, a home run and 14 RBIs.
"Tyler's a returning All-District center fielder for us," Barton said. "We are looking for a good year from him."
Brown, Christmas, Griffin and Edwards are vying for the remaining two outfield spots.
Prairie View has compiled a 40-10 record, including a 5-3 mark vs. district rival Glenbrook, in two seasons under Barton. Glenbrook is the only team to have beaten the Spartans during that span, though Barton is expecting more in-state competition this time around.
"River Oaks and Tallulah are supposed to be very good this year," Barton said. "We are kind of young in spots. It's going to be a challenging year for our boys."
Prairie View opens the season at Claiborne on Monday at 5 p.m. in Haynesville.