Two of our five contenders brought home gold last season in Lutheran South and Northland Christian.
Concordia Lutheran is a traditional power and will have to hold off St. Thomas in the big TAPPS race, while Episcopal should be the favorites in the Southwest Prep Conference.
Here are the Private School Contenders
Concordia Lutheran Crusaders
Concordia Lutheran's Jarrett Young, Sean Fitzpatrick, Cash McNicholas and James Hitt
Rick Lynch is a coaching legend at Concordia Lutheran up in Tomball, reaching the TAPPS DI state tournament six years in a row. The 'Saders won it all in 2015 with some uber-talent. So, who returns in 2020 to lead the Crusaders back to state? It all starts with first-team, all-state selections Cash McNicholas and James Hitt who are pitcher/outfielders. Hitt has signed with Texas Tech, while McNicholas will head to McLennan CC next year. Crafty, lefty Sean Fitzpatrick can be unhittable at times, while Jarrett Young holds down the infield at shortstop. Concordia Lutheran won district a year ago but fell in the state semis to districtmate St. Thomas in a 1-0 heartbreaker. They will be back with a vengeance and a one-track mind in 2020 – championship of bust.
Lutheran South Pioneers
Lutheran South's Luke Harrison, Deaundre Jones and Henry Hill
Can Lutheran South complete the three-peat? The Pioneers have built a power baseball program under the direction of coach Aaron Schneider, winning back-to-back titles in TAPPS DII. They've actually made it three titles in five years. LSA is loaded again in 2020 as the Pioneers return junior lefty Luke Harrison to lead the pitching staff. The second-team, all-state selection has the stuff to have already committed to the University of Texas. Need a lethal bat? First-team, all-district selection Deaundre Jones has one of the best bats in the state. He's committed to the University of Houston. Henry Hill plays the hot corner and will provide senior leadership along with Kaleb Hicks. Second Baptist and Cypress Christian will challenge in district play, but the Pioneers are the team to beat.
Episcopal's Bennett Hanks, Tanner Witt and Raffi Gross
The Episcopal Knights were knocked off by Kinkaid in the Southwest Preparatory Conference finals in 2019 and return a dugout full of stars still seeing red. The Knights have nine SPC titles in the trophy case. Six of the nine were won with the leadership of coach Matt Fox, who enters year 10 at the helm. Fox welcomes one of the top aces in the country – Tanner Witt, a 6-foot-4 senior who has signed with the University of Texas. Will he or won't he go pro is the real question? Also helping on the mound is Bennett Hanks, who also doubles as a first-baseman and can hit for power. Roaming the outfield is junior Raffi Gross, who has committed to the University of Houston. Max Madison will manage the pitchers behind the plate. Fox and crew would love nothing more than to bring back their 10th SPC title back to downtown.
St. Thomas Eagles
It's year two of the Adam Massiatte-era at St. Thomas, which has been a success so far. Massiatte led the Eagles to the TAPPS state finals last season, before falling to Liberty Christian. The Eagles are back with another talented roster ready to challenge at the highest level of private school baseball. St. Thomas returns Texas A&M signee Will Rizzo, an all-state pitcher and corner infielder. Adam Derosches could emerge as a solid pitcher as well. Daniel Coco is a three-year starter. Concordia Lutheran will challenge for the district title, but the Eagles have bigger goals – a state title.
Northland Christian Cougars
Northland Christian's (above) Peyton Fennelly, Kristopher Maxwell (below) Marshall Ingram, Cameron Bailes and Brady Kraner
The Champs are here … The Northland Christian Cougars join Lutheran North and Kinkaid as the private schools who won state titles in 2019. Coach Rich Nixon brings back some experience who have hopes of making it back-to-back titles. It all starts up the middle for the Cougars. Marshall Ingram was the first-team, all-state catcher, who can manage the staff and hit with the best in the business. All-state shortstop Cameron Bailes handles the middle infield, while first-team, all-district selection Brody Kraner patrols the outfield. Northland is going to need some arms to emerge to be THAT team. Peyton Fennelly and Kris Maxwell could be those guys. The Woodlands Christian Academy will challenge for the district title and help get
VYPE breaks down the Private School Baseball sector in this section. The next set of teams we dive into are the Dark Horses, which are squads who were just on the fringe of being contenders in 2020 but who could definitely jump into that category by spring's end. Check out the VYPE 2020 Private School Baseball Dark Horses.
This article appears in the 2020 VYPE Houston Baseball/Softball Preview presented by Champion Energy, which will be hitting newsstands soon in the Houston-area.
Kinkaid's Chris Stallings, Blake Pou and David Shaw
Kinkaid always plays with a chip on their shoulder, regardless of the sport. Episcopal gets the headlines, but the Falcons scratch out the titles. Last year was no different as Kinkaid beat Episcopal to take the SPC Title. Coach Steve Maas has one of the best aces in the city. David Shaw is a crafty, lefty who can deal. The junior has verbally committed to baseball power Rice. All-SPC selection Chris Stallings also returns to bring senior leadership from the outfield position. He's committed to Air Force. Kinkaid is looking for "one for the thumb" – their fifth title in school history.
Cypress Christian Warriors
Cypress Christian's Luke Thompson, Andrew Hoegsberg, JT Tackett, Clayton Dean and Drue Hirth
The Cypress Christian Warriors are a year removed from their TAPPS DII state title in 2018. Several of the players who made up that roster played a part in the title run. Coach David Swan has hopes of capturing lightning in a bottle again to bring home another state championship trophy. Let's start on the mound as senior lefty and Baylor-signee Luke Thompson is back in the fold along with fellow lefty JT Tackett, an all-state selection. Clayton Dean brings punch to the lineup and is committed to UL-Lafayette. Drue Hirth can do it all from catching and pitching to playing third, while Andrew Hoegsberg (UT-Tyler) can also play behind the plate. The Warriors are shaping up for another district title run and beyond.
Bay Area Christian Broncos
Bay Area Christian's Myles Anderson, Jordan Medellin, Jackson Collins and Dalton Chavis
Heading down south, the Broncos of Bay Area Christian ran the table in TAPPS DIII District 6 in 2019. They fell short of the goal in the Regional Finals, but coach Kyle Kennedy returns some all-state talent. Don't forget, the Broncos won state in 2016, so they have been there. The headliner is supersophomore shortstop Jordan Medellin, who has committed to Baylor. First-team, all-state lefty Jackson Collins returns to anchor a great staff that also includes righty Myles Anderson. Dalton Chavis returns at secondbase along with infielder Payton Deegan. Both bring senior leadership. Don't sleep on the Broncos as they could fit for another ring.