When it comes to Class 3A baseball south of Chicago in recent years, few conferences can match the consistent success of the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Highland won the 2008 Class 3A state championship and has seven regional championships and two sectional titles since 1991. Triad took fourth in the state last season and owns eight regional titles and four sectional championships since 2002.
Waterloo finished third in the state in 2011 and since 1990 has won four regionals.
"Since we've gone to the four classes, I think it's one of the better conferences our size in the state," said Triad coach Jesse Bugger, whose team was 31-10 last spring. "We've had a lot of talent come through the conference the last few years."
This year should be no different. Triad won the conference last season with a 10-0 league mark.
"We took a hit with graduation, but I think we've got a lot more coming back than people realize," Bugger said. "We've got a pretty strong junior class that are just getting ready to play their first varsity games."
Triad is 2-0 and the Knights are led by senior slugger Keaton Wright, a first baseman who holds the school's career RBI record and is headed to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Wright led the St. Louis area with 18 double last season and his 48 RBIs ranked first in the metro-east and No. 4 in the St. Louis region.
The four-year starter hit .410 with four homers.
"He's put on at least 15 pounds of muscle and he's swinging the bat well so far," Bugger said. "He's got as nice a swing as anybody in the area."
Senior second baseman Cody Massey (.353, seven doubles, 17 RBIs) is in his third year as a starter and has signed with Maryville University.
Senior ace pitcher Lucas Infanti (.278, seven doubles, three homers, 17 RBIs) will also start at shortstop. Infanti, headed for Crowder College, was 8-2 last season with a 3.37 ERA.
Senior right fielder Tyler Carpenter has signed with Division II William Jewell, while senior Lucas Criley (.455 in limited action) takes over in center.
Senior right-hander Jordan Felax is receiving interest from junior colleges and SIUE, where older brother Travis Felax is the Cougars' ace.
Other pitching hopefuls are senior J.T. Barras, senior Jakob Thomas; transfer Richard Boatman from O'Fallon and sophomore Dalton Johnson.
Johnson will also see time at third and short.