And it must follow as night the day, baseball season follows basketball for Pahranagat Valley High School.
This year the Panthers open the season with their traditional Pahranagat Valley Invitational tournament March 11-12 featuring Beaver Dam, Eureka, West Wendover and Moapa JV.
After that, PVHS is on the road for six of their next seven games, including a trip to southern California to play Ojai Valley in Ojai, California, and Cate School in Santa Barbara. Cate is equal in their division to Lincoln County, and was 6-11 last season, and Ojai Valley, in a smaller division, was 2-7.
Taking the trip to California is “actually cheaper than going to a second pre-season tournament,” said coach Brad Loveday. “There’s no entry fee involved, we get to stay overnight, and it’s just kind of fun.”
Pahranagat Valley last season was 21- 4, 7-0 in the Southern League, but lost in the state tournament.
Junior pitcher/infielder Christian Higbee was the Southern League MVP in 2015.
“He’s been throwing a couple of times a week,”– even during basketball — “and getting stronger,” Loveday said.
Higbee went 8-1 with a 1.67 ERA last season, and didn’t suffer his first loss until the state tournament and finished the season with 53 strikeouts in 42 innings.
He also batted .494 with 38 runs and 31 RBIs. “He’s by far the best all-around player in Division IV,” said Loveday. “(His) bat is just incredible. When he came to the plate, it was really good for us. And pitching, he didn’t give up his first earned run until the last game of the regular season. He just had a great season. At the same time, fellow junior pitcher/infielder All League selection Tabor Maxwell is just as good, so it’s a hard choice over either one of them. I think they are the top two pitchers in the state at Division IV.”
Returning to the Panther lineup this year will be fellow All-league selections are seniors Shawn Wadsworth and Brandon Burris.
Maxwell and Higbee will also anchor the infield when not pitching, trading off at playing either third base or shortstop. Senior Shawn Wadsworth will handle the catching duties.
And Loveday notes, “We have other underclassmen who have been also working hard in the offseason. Asher Haworth, Tyson Jorgenson and Brodie Maxwell, including some new freshmen like Stockton Maxwell and Brenden Stewart, that we expect to see good things from.”
Looking at the Southern Division, split into two leagues, Central and Southern, Indian Springs is expected to ride on the arm of First Team All-league junior pitcher Nino Alverez and senior utility player Ryan Frank.
Beatty, Round Mountain, Tonopah and Spring Mountain make up the Central League. “Tonopah and Round ought to be pretty tough there,” Loveday commented.
The Panthers the two-time defending league champions, having won it five times since 2010.
Their first home league games are a double header with Sandy Valley April 14.