HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay
1. Jesuit (12-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. East Lake, Wednesday vs. IMG,
Scoop: Jesuit lost its first game of the season last week, but it was against a strong Countryside squad by one run in extra innings. The Tigers are ranked 18th nationally by MaxPreps, and for good reason. Jesuit has given up just 11 earned runs in 13 games.
2. Berkeley Prep (11-1)
This week: Wednesday at Tampa Catholic, Saturday at Calvary Christian
Scoop: Like Jesuit, the Bucs fell off their unbeaten streak last week, dropping a game to 11-win Lakeland McKeel Academy, 3-1. Still, the Bucs are one of the most well-rounded teams around, outscoring opponents 86-15.
3. Mitchell (9-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Hudson, Thursday at Anclote
Scoop: After losing at Northeast on March 4, the Mustangs weren’t really tested in wins over Gulf and Dixie Hollins. There isn’t much trouble this week either, which means Mitchell should be rolling into the Farm Bureau Classic next week.
4. King (11-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Plant,
Scoop: The Lions picked up a huge district win against Hillsborough last week, and that puts them in the driver’s seat in the Class 7A-8 standings. As of Tuesday morning, King was riding a seven-game win streak and well on its way to fighting for a Saladino Tournament title, something the Lions haven’t won since 1992.
5. Bishop McLaughlin (8-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Central, Wednesday vs. Carrollwood Day,
Scoop: The Hurricanes have won seven straight. They have been hitting well, as their .337 team average proves. Dillon Morton is hitting a ridiculous .630 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
6. Countryside (9-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University, Friday at East Lake
Scoop: The Cougars knocked off previously unbeaten Jesuit to begin last week, then lost 10-0 to Seminole. Go figure. This week could be equally unpredictable. Pitching is the strength, led by sophomore Tanner Baker (3-0, 0.98 ERA).
7. Alonso (10-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Blake (Saladino tournament).
Scoop: The Ravens have a lineup full of clutch hitters, and they proved it Monday with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory against Robinson, in which Gator commits Jordan Butler hit a home run and Jose Ciccarello followed with a walkoff double. The reigning Saladino champions have a good shot of repeating if they can keep up that kind of offense.
8. Osceola (9-2)
This week: Wednesday at Boca Ciega, Friday at Palm Harbor University
Scoop: It seems as if every week the Warriors are knocking off a ranked team. There was East Lake two weeks ago and Northeast last week. So into the top 10 you go, Osceola. Corey Ireson (4-1, 0.69 ERA) is having a big senior season.
9. Northeast (8-3)
This week: Monday at Dunedin, Tuesday vs. Christian Academy of Knoxville, Friday vs. Lexington (S.C.)
Scoop: The Vikings ran into a tough Osceola pitching staff last week and were shut out for the first time this season. That might not happen again. Northeast has more offense this season and the bats should wake up this week, which includes two games against out-of-state teams.
10. Strawberry Crest (10-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Middleton (Saladino tournament)
Scoop: The Chargers proved just how good they really are on Saturday, beating Hillsborough 5-0 in a Saladino pool play game. If they can beat one-win Middleton on Tuesday, Strawberry Crest will be on its way back to the tournament quarterfinals. Senior Brandon Harris has an 0.64 ERA, striking out 46 in 33 innings pitched.
11. Hillsborough (7-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Sickles (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Terriers have struggled with consistency, but when they’re on, they have one of the best offenses around. Hillsborough has five starters hitting at least .300, and first baseman Tim Elko (.528, 18 RBI, three HRs) is still one of the hottest hitters in the county.
12. Steinbrenner (9-3)
This week: Wednesday vs. TBA (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: Since dropping a game to Alonso, Steinbrenner has won five straight, including all three of its Saladino tournament pool play games. The Warriors are led by a balanced attack and ace CJ Van Eyk, who has struck out 52 in 33 innings pitched while posting a .353 average at the plate.
13. Brandon (11-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Spoto (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Eagles looked dominant in a Saladino Tournament win against Leto on Saturday, but the host team dropped a pool play game against East Bay on Monday. Still, LHP Antonio Velez (6-0, 0.55 ERA) is one of the best high school players in the nation, and he’s No. 1 nationally in strikeouts (68), according to MaxPreps.
14. Land O’Lakes (10-0)
This week: Tuesday at Pasco, Wednesday vs. Gulf, Friday vs. Anclote
Scoop: The Gators just keep on rolling, and this week shouldn’t change anything. McCabe Sargent is leading the offense with a .379 average. Dustin Harris isn’t far behind at .364. Pitching has been eye-popping. The Gators now have a 0.23 team ERA. Sargent is 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA and Kirby Osborn is 5-0 with a 0.41.
15. Durant (8-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Armwood (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Cougars are averaging nearly five runs per game, but they’ve struggled lately against good competition, losing to Steinbrenner twice and rival Plant City in the past two weeks.
16. Bloomingdale (8-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Freedom (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Bulls’ Saladino tournament loss to Plant City on Saturday was its third straight, but the Bulls rebounded with a nice offensive showing against Chamberlain. Eight different Bulls had at least one hit in the 10-3 victory, and junior RHP Jacob Hedgpeth picked up the win on the mound.
17. East Lake (7-4)
This week: Tuesday at Jesuit, Wednesday at St. Petersburg, Friday vs. Countryside
Scoop: Travis MacGregor threw a one-hitter against Pinellas Park last week. That was the good news. The bad was an early-week loss to Seminole. With another tough week, the Eagles must find consistency as the postseason nears.
18. Robinson (9-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Lennard (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Knights lost a heartbreaker to Alonso on Monday in Saladino tournament play, but Matthew Steckel had a good day at the plate, finishing 2-for-4. The senior infielder leads Robinson at the plate with a .439 average and 11 RBIs.
19. Springstead (10-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Dunnellon, Thursday at Central
Scoop: The Eagles have won four straight after a narrow 1-0 loss to Nature Coast. They are 9-0 in Class 6A, District 6, three games up on Citrus.
20. Newsome (10-4)
This week: vs. Gaither (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Wolves lost their first two Saladino tournament games, but rebounded Tuesday morning with a one-run win against Gaither. Newsome will have the rest of spring break free before taking on a streaking Plant City team early next week.
21. Palm Harbor University (5-4)
This week: Tuesday at Countryside, Thursday vs. Seminole, Friday vs. Osceola
Scoop: If the Hurricanes truly are a top 25 team, this week will prove it. The pitching staff is much improved and will be stretched this week. The key may be the offense, which has been up and down. Expect the Hurricanes to face three good starters this week.
22. Plant City (9-4)
This week: no games scheduled
Scoop: The Raiders were riding a six-game win streak before dropping a game to Freedom in the ninth inning on Monday. Dalton Wingo has been a force at the plate for Plant City, posting a .415 batting average, four home runs and 17 RBIs.
23. Plant (9-4)
This week: Tuesday at King (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The winner of Tuesday’s game between King and Plant will move on to the Saladino quarterfinals, and the loser has a good chance of getting one of the coveted wild card spots. The Panthers have won five of their past six games, a nice turn of events for a squad that has struggled at the plate some this season.
24. Riverview (8-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Brooks-DeBartolo (Saladino Tournament)
Scoop: The Sharks have had a nice run lately, beating Plant, Newsome and Gaither all in one-run decisions in the past week. A win against Brooks DeBartolo on Tuesday will send Riverview to the Saladino tournament quarterfinals, where its reliable offense (the Sharks have scored 12 runs in the past three games) could take it far.
25. Northside Christian (11-2)
This week: Monday at Bradenton St. Stephen’s, Tuesday at St. Petersburg Catholic, Thursday at Admiral Farragut
Scoop: Had to get the Mustangs into the top 25. This is a program that has struggled the past few years, including going 11-15 last season. But this season they’re hitting .370 and have better pitching. Sophomore Brendan Tracy is 4-1 with a 1.06 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 26 innings.
On the bubble: Zephyrhills (7-3), Keswick Christian (11-0), Hernando (8-4), Indian Rocks Christian (9-6), River Ridge (7-4), Calvary Christian (7-5), Freedom (6-6), Seminole (8-6), Lakewood (8-5), Pinellas Park (6-6).