Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Countdown: No. 16 Cherokee Trail

By John Cackowski
State Director

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 Trail
Preseason Rank: 18
2015 Record: 13-8
Conference: Centennial
CHSAA Class: 5A
Head Coach: Allan Dyer
Playoff Run: Lost to Pine Creek 1-0 in Class 5A District 8 Championship Game
2015 Final Rank: 25
Returning Starters: 7
Returning Pitchers: 5

Ryan Sullivan, 1B, No. 20 2016 (Iowa Western CC)
Jerome Bohannon, LHP/OF, No. 30 2016 (Metropolitan State)
Matt Meraz, OF, No 61 2016 (Shorline CC)
Connor Nantkes, LHP, No. 13 2017
Eric Cox, OF, No. 20 2017
Nick Perez, 3B, No. 21 2017
Michael Morris, SS, No. 53 2017
Keven Mackin
tosh, No. 123 2016 (Lamar CC)

If the Cougars solidify one more starting pitcher to go behind left-handed options Nantkes and Bohannon they will be favorite to win the Centennial League. No one else at the 5A level has two left-handed starting pitchers on the mound as effective as those two.

Nick Leisge: Graduated

The Cougars return 5 players who hit over .350 last year, and 4 players who hit over .400. They also bring back 101 innings pitched from 2015.  

The Cougars are back on the map. After a couple of years of rebuilding the Cougars made the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and came to within one run of making it to the 5A Final 8 again. Coach Dyer brings back a team in 2016 that is athletic, and talented. They can pitch, run, and hit. 2016 Ryan Sullivan (Iowa Western CC) will be the main force in the middle of the lineup. Last year the 6-foot-5 1B hit .402 and led the team with 5 homeruns and 21 RBI's. The Cougars have two very tough left handed pitchers returning. 2016 LHP/OF Jerome Bohannon (Metropolitan State) will be back on the bump with his mid 80's fastball. Last year Bohannon only gave up 17 hits in 35 innings pitched while striking out 35. He carried a 3.17 ERA and a 4-3 record. The other lefty is 2017 Connor Nantkes. Nantkes went an impressive 5-0 in 44 innings pitched with a 2.23 ERA. He also hit .340 on the season. 2017 Nick Perez returns to 3B. Last year he hit an impressive .485 and led the team with 10 doubles. In the outfield 2016 Matt Meraz and 2017 Eric Cox come back. Meraz also his over .400 last season (.429), and Cox is an athletic big body kid who can provide power and speed on the bases. 2017 SS Michael Morris also hit .429 and hit 3 homeruns before his season was cut short by injury. The Cougars also have another starting option on the mound with Keven Mackintosh (Lamar CC) who threw 20 effective innings in 2015. This is the best team the Cougars have had since they reached the 5A Final 8 in 2011. They have a very good chance to get back in 2016.  

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