Preseason Top 50 Countdown: No.7 Fruita





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: Fruita
Preseason Rank:
7
2015 Record:
18-2
Conference:
Western Slope
 CHSAA Class: 5A
Head Coach:
Ray McLellan
Playoff Run: Lost to Chatfield 3-2 in Class 5A District 4 playoffs
2015 Final Rank: 9
Returning Starters: 2

Returning Pitchers: 2

TOP PLAYERS
Cuba Bess, 1B/3B, No. 14 2016 (Grand Canyon University)
Sam Schroeder, RHP/OF, No. 17 2016
Devon Canup, RHP, No. 69 2016 (Northwest Nazarine)

OTHER PLAYERS THAT COULD MAKE AN IMPACT
Zach Rush, INF/RHP, 2019

X-FACTOR
Overcoming a tough 5A District Playoff loss as a host site to Chatfield 3-2 after having a 2-0 lead in the 7th inning and reloading after graduating 7 starting seniors.

STAT RAT
The Wildcats still bring back their No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers. Schroeder and Canup went a combined 12 and 2 last season.

BOTTOM LINE
Fruita always has a history of being a scrappy hard working team. The credit goes to their long time coach Ray McLellan who always has his team able to compete with the best teams in 5A. After a dominating 2015 season who would have thought at the time that the Wildcats had a tough draw in Chatfield..a team that started the season 1 and 8 last year and barely squeaked into the playoffs only to make the 5A State Championship game. The Wildcats also had a 2-0 lead in the 7th inning of that game. That's why they play the game. Fast forward to 2016 and the Wildcats still have a chance to repeat their 2015 success. 2016 1B Cuba Bess (Grand Canyon) returns. Last year Bess might have been the best hitter at the 5A level. Bess hit .562 and drove in 40 RBI's to go along with 4 homeruns. He will be sure pitched around this year. 2016 RHP Sam Schroeder is an athletic pitcher (Starting QB for 3 years) who has a big arm. Bringing a 90 mph fastball, Schroeder went 7-1 with a 1.95 ERA. In 46 innings Schroeder struck out 67 and only gave up 27 hits. The No. 2 starter Devon Canup (Northwest Nazarine) also returns. Last year Canup posted a 5-1 record in 36 innings pitched striking out 28. The Wildcats will have a lot of new faces, but they have the 1-2 pitching combo to get through districts. Look for the Wildcats to come close to repeating their regular season record of 2015. They just need to learn from the loss to Chatfield last year.

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