Prep Baseball Report

PBR Kentucky/KHSBCA Preseason Power 25: A Look At The Teams Ranked No. 21-25

Chris Fuller
Kentucky Executive Director

With Opening Day slated for Monday, March 14, the 2022 high school baseball season is upon us, and that means it’s time to release the PBR Kentucky/Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Preseason Power 25.

After hours of combing through returning players and impactful newcomers, we will release the Preseason Power 25 with an in-depth look at five teams at a time, beginning today with the No. 21-25 ranked teams.

The Power 25 will be updated weekly throughout the season.

21. Beechwood

Outlook: Another year, another 30+ win season for the Tigers who finished at 31-7 last spring that culminated in another 9th region championship. Beechwood returns plenty of offensive firepower from the 2021 squad who hit .357 as a team, led by a pair of seniors in OF Brett Holladay, 2022 1B Tanner Jackson, and 2023 OF/RHP Mitchell Berger (Eastern Kentucky), all of who hit .400+ last spring. 2023 C Brice Estep (Eastern Kentucky) is a rock behind the plate and led the 2021 squad with 46 hits.

The question lies with the Tigers pitching. Berger is a legit No. 1 on the mound, but Beechwood will need some others to step up with reports that Holladay may not pitch this spring, and the loss of Drew Fieger to graduation who posted a 7-0 record and 1.14 ERA.

22. Tates Creek

Outlook: Ultimately, the Commodores success in the ever-tough 43rd district may lie in how much offense they can produce, but you can count on the arms to give them a chance to win every night. 2022 RHP David Castleberry (Kentucky Wesleyan), and 2023 RHP Andrew Gilliam will lead the pitching staff that includes one of the top sophomores in the state in RHP Carson Van Haaren. A couple of wild cards on the mound will be the health of a pair of pitchers returning from injury in 2022 RHP Hayden Dunham and 2023 RHP Braxton Brinegar (Xavier University). Dunham and Brinegar can be big difference makers if both are healthy.

At the plate, look for 2022 OF Jacob McDonald and 2023 C Isaac Tencza to lead the Commodores charge.

23. Russell County

Outlook: After a 30-win season in 2021, the Lakers return nearly their entire roster that includes one of the 4th region’s best 1-2 punches on the mound in 2022 RHP Nathan Lawson (Eastern Kentucky) and 2022 LHP Cody Luttrell. Lawson and Luttrell combined to go 16-3 last spring, and look for senior Nick Aaron, who won 5 games in 2021, to contribute big innings as well.

Offensively, Lawson will lead the charge after posting a .442 average with 14 doubles and 9 home runs last spring, and look for big contributions from senior Isaac Roy, 2023 OF Aidan Antle, and senior Maxon Gosser.

24. Ballard

Outlook: The Bruins return nearly their entire roster from last spring’s 21-11 squad that got better as the season progressed. Look for the offense to be led by OF Dylan Ecken (Barry University) who hit .443 last spring and the power of Brady Lysher who hit 10 doubles and 7 home runs to lead Ballard in extra base hits. Two other top offensive performers from last season, Lavon Thomas and DeShaun McGinnis return to give the Bruins a formidable middle of the batting order. Look for juniors Sam Bevin  and Stephen Hayden to have breakout seasons on the varsity level this spring.

On the mound, three of last season’s top four pitchers return, led by senior RHP Zachary Martin who returns his 3 wins, 2 saves, and 3.31 ERA from last season. McGinnis will once again play a key role on the mound as he won 5 games last year, and 2023 RHP Ben Shuler will look to build on giving up no earned runs in 20 IP in 2021. Watch for 2023 RHP Jake Hicks to be a big contributor with a fastball that has reached into the high-80’s.

25. Whitley County

Outlook: Fresh off a 31-10 season that culminated in a State Tournament Elite Eight appearance, the Colonels return all but one key contributor from last year’s squad, and will certainly be the favorite to repeat out of the 13th Region. University of the Cumberlands recruit Caden Petrey was a one-man wrecking crew last spring and returns to lead both the offense and pitching staff after posting a .496 batting average with 23 doubles, 4 triples, and 2 home runs to go along with 9 wins on the mound. Offensively, look for another big season from 2023 Sam Harp, 2024 SS Bryce Anderson, and 2023 IF Mason Croley.

The arms will be led by the aforementioned Caden Petrey, and 10-win returner Grant Zehr. Croley and Anderson will round out the Colonels deep pitching staff.