Notebook: Fairview's lineup provides spark to successful baseball season

Fairview Legacy baseball

(Pam Wagner)

BOULDER -- Fairview's baseball team made such quick work of Greeley West in a win last Saturday -- it took 57 minutes -- that the Knights held batting practice afterward.

The win was a 10-0 affair in five innings, blown open by an eight-run fourth inning which included Jeff Clarke's home run over the scoreboard in left field. Eight of their nine players recorded at least one hit, and seven had at least one RBI.

Sitting in their dugout after the game, a few players approached coach Rick Harig and asked if they could take batting practice. They didn't feel like they'd been on the field long enough. Harig shrugged: "Sure, why not."

So the Knights took hacks for another hour. Not that they really needed the practice. These guys can hit.

Saturday's game was the seventh in a row in which Fairview's lineup had produced double-digit runs, and Tuesday's 15-0 win over Poudre made it eight straight.

Fairview Legacy baseball

(Pam Wagner)

Fairview now has four players with at least four home runs -- Clarke, Cam Frazier and Walker Harris -- and its 18 homers as a team is third-best in the state among all classifications.

Clarke is hitting .579 with 33 RBIs, Frazier is at .526 with 20 RBIs and Jacob Thoning is hitting .500 with 17 RBIs. No one who sees regular at-bats is hitting below .333. And this is a team which lost designated hitter Steve D'Epagnier to a torn labrum after five games.

The Knights lead Class 5A in team batting average (.447), slugging percentage (.698), RBIs (152) and runs (167).

For context, ThunderRidge led 5A in batting average and runs scored en route to the championship last season. Rocky Mountain, the runner-up, led 5A in RBIs, and was second in runs.

More context: 2012 champion Cherry Creek led 5A in RBIs and runs, and was second in home runs. 2011 champ Regis Jesuit led 5A in runs, home runs and RBIs.

But ThunderRidge, Cherry Creek and Regis also had great pitching staffs. In fact, Cherry Creek's team led 5A with a 1.75 ERA in 2012. And pitching is what separates teams in the postseason, where seemingly everyone can hit.

Fairview's arms have matured this season and become more consistent compared to prior years. As a staff, the Knights have a 2.23 ERA, which is third-best in 5A at this point.

Senior Ryan Kokora carries a 1.18 ERA in 29 2/3 innings, and is now 6-0. He started (and won) Fairview's biggest win of the season, a 10-7 victory at Rocky Mountain on April 10. Kokora gave up seven runs that day, five earned, but hasn't allowed anything else in any of his other appearances. In fact, outside of the Rocky Mountain game -- in which he pitched well, make no mistake -- Kokora has allowed just eight hits.

But one pitcher can't carry a team through the postseason.

Fairview Legacy baseball

(Pam Wagner)

Fortunately for Fairview, the Knights have what amounts to two aces. Ryan Madden, a junior, is 6-1 with a 3.37 ERA and 31 strikeouts against just five walks in 35 1/3 innings.

Mike Vlasity is the team's closer with a 0.88 ERA, and has 21 strikeouts to two walks in 16 innings.

Johnny Feauto or Jacob Kearney will likely be Fairview's third starter should they need one in the postseason. Neither have been needed since early April.

All of them have flourished under the guidance of senior catcher Cannon Casey, who calls pitches all game, and has since he was a sophomore.

It's all amounted to this: Fairview is unbeaten in Colorado so far this season (11-0), with the lone loss coming over spring break in Arizona. The Knights already have 14 wins, which is the most since going 16-5 during the 2008-09 season. That is also the last time they won a postseason game. Fairview beat Arvada West in the first round of districts that season, but then lost to Grandview in the second round.

As far as recent history goes, the Knights lost in the first round of districts in 2013 and 2010, and didn't even make the postseason in 2012 or 2011. In fact, Fairview's last trip to the Final 8 came during the 2007 season, when it went 1-2.

So this is quite a turnaround. As of Thursday, Fairview is No. 2 in CHSAANow.com's 5A baseball poll and No. 3 in the wild card points standings.

The school made a surprise trip to football's championship game in the fall. Is its baseball program next?

Short stuff

  • Eaton hired Zac Lemon to be its next football coach, according to Colorado Preps, filling one of the bigger jobs in 2A. Lemon had been at 1A Hotchkiss, where he was 60-16-1 in seven seasons. Here's our coaching changes tracker.
  • In recent months, Regis Jesuit's 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive lineman Tim Lynott has hauled in the scholarship offers. Thursday, the 2015 grad was offered by Wyoming. That followed an offer from Utah State on Monday. He's now up to 12 total, and counts Miami, Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State and Kansas State among his offers. CU and CSU have both offered, as well.
  • He's a 2016 graduate, but Legacy quarterback Matt Lynch committed to Colorado State during the Rams' spring game this past Saturday, according to BoCoPreps.com. "It did shock me a little bit," Lynch told BoCoPreps of committing early.
  • Eaglecrest picked Tom Brennan as its girls basketball coach. He was an assistant at the school this past season, and was also on the staff at ThunderRidge when it won 5A titles from 2003-05. "We are confident coach Brennan can take this program to a different level of success moving forward while also providing long term stability and consistently high expectations year in and year out," Eaglecrest AD Vince Orlando said in a statement. In addition, the school hired Rhonda Appleton-Webb as an assistant.
  • Chatfield cracked MaxPreps' top 50 national baseball rankings on Monday. Though, that will likely change after the No. 1 Chargers lost to No. 3 Columbine on Wednesday.
  • Ralston Valley's Jordan Holloway went 4-for-4 with three home runs and nine RBIs in a win over Standley Lake last Saturday.
  • Dakota Ridge golfer Sydney Merchant set the course record at The Meadows Golf Course on Monday when she shot a 63. Just another golfer to watch for in the loaded 5A field.
  • The Colorado 7 League added an eighth team during the 2014-16 realignment, but will keep its name.
  • If you missed it, Pueblo East hired longtime assistant Mike Massaro as its boys basketball coach.
  • This is neat, via Aaron Matas: The Xcel Energy Center, home to the Minnesota Wild, has high school hockey jerseys adorning its walls.
  • Rule change for swimming: In the backstroke, "any part of the swimmer's body must be on or above the water at the finish." This will take effect in the 2014-15 season. Previously, the swimmer could be underwater.