New year, lots of changes for Brighton baseball
Apr 03, 2018 03:41PM ● Published by Josh McFadden
By Josh McFadden | email@example.com
You might not expect big things from a team coming off a 4-21 season in which it placed last in its region with a 2-16 mark. But Brighton High School baseball coach Andy Concepcion has all the confidence in the world his team is headed for greatness.
Not only does Concepcion believe the Bengals will be vastly improved from last season, but he has the highest of aspirations and goals.
“My expectations are getting to the playoffs and winning the state championship,” he said. “I’m looking forward to hoisting up the state championship trophy.”
Brighton struggled in Region 3 last season, competing in the highest level (Class 5A) against the likes of Bingham, Cottonwood and Jordan. But it’s a new season, and the Bengals have key returners, along with some new faces Concepcion is certain will make a significant difference. Brighton moves to Region 7 this season and stays in 5A rather than moving up to the newly created Class 6A. This season, the Bengals will square off with Corner Canyon, Jordan, Alta, Timpview and Cottonwood for region supremacy.
In order to make this grand turnaround Concepcion envisions, he said the offense must produce at a high level every week, and newcomers must make their presence felt.
“The keys will be staying consistent on offense and having our young guys step up,” he said.
Concepcion highlighted a number of standout performers he’s counting on to lead the team on and off the field. He’s eager to see what senior centerfielder and pitcher Alex Zettler can do. The team captain transferred from Copper Hills two years ago and made great strides toward the end of the year. He recently committed to Texas A&M University.
"(Zettler) is a leader and extremely athletic,” Concepcion said. “Alex played very well down the stretch last season to earn Second-Team All-Region Honors as well as winning the Team MVP for Brighton football.”
Third baseman Zach Larson is another player to watch. The First-Team All-Region performer hit .400 last season and enters his third year as a starter. He played on the Utah Horns club team during the offseason and is a multi-sport athlete at Brighton; he was an All-Academic performer on the football team this past season.
“(Larson) brings a ton of passion to our program,” Concepcion said.
Junior Alex Hansen, a second baseman and right-handed pitcher, along with sophomore shortstop Tommy Ellis add depth and talent to the team. Concepcion is expecting big things from another sophomore, catcher Thomas Powley.
“(Hansen) had a very good season last year, hitting over .400 and earning First-Team All-Region. Alex is very versatile with the ability to be a big-time D1 player. Alex is a tremendous teammate and student athlete with a 4.0 GPA. (Ellis) brings a ton of excitement to the program this year. He is on track to be one of the top shortstops in the state. (Powley) is a power-hitting catcher who played very well last season. He has tremendous passion to play this game. He is a leader and does a great job with our pitching staff. Look for him to have breakout year.”
But Concepcion is most excited about a newcomer to the program: right-handed pitcher and first baseman Brennan Holligan, a junior who transferred from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Concepcion knows Holligan well, as he coached him as a youth in Vegas prior to coming to Brighton. Holligan is a rare commodity. He joins the Bengals as an Under Armour Preseason All-American. In 2015, he was the winning pitcher in the Las Vegas Connie Mack State Championship where he threw a one-hitter.
“(Holligan) is a big-time player who adds a lot of value to our program,” Concepcion said.
Brighton began the 2018 season with a pair of victories: a 9-1 win over Kearns on March 10 and a 4-3 victory over Mountain View on the same day. Brighton hosted Hillcrest on March 19. From April 3–6, the team will compete in the prestigious IMG National Classic in Bradenton, Florida.