HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay
1. Mitchell (15-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Crystal River, Thursday vs. Land O’Lakes, Friday vs. Osceola
Scoop: The Mustangs won four straight last week to take the Farm Bureau Classic title in Brooksville. They have now won eight in a row and are clearly the North Suncoast’s top team. This week is a tough one, with Land O’Lakes and district foe Osceola waiting.
2. Steinbrenner (13-4)
This week: Tuesday at Hillsborough, Thursday at Gaither, Saturday vs. King
Scoop: Nothing came easy for the Warriors last week. They needed extra innings to get past Bloomingdale, then fell 9-2 to district rival Plant. There are no cupcakes on the schedule this week either for Steinbrenner, which is led at the plate by Bradley Hession’s .396 average and 12 RBIs.
3. Berkeley Prep (12-5)
This week: Thursday at Brooks DeBartolo, Friday vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, Saturday vs. St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.)
Scoop: The Buccaneers had a rough time at last week’s IMG Spring Break Tournament, going 0-4. Berkeley Prep can get back on track with two games against Class 4A, District 4 foes. The Bucs are currently unbeaten in the district.
4. Alonso (13-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Sickles, Thursday at Riverview, Friday vs. Riverview
Scoop: Plant struck down another top team, beating the Ravens 7-4 in their lone game of the week. Junior lefty Jordan Butler and junior infielder Jose Ciccarello lead practically every category in the district.
5. Bishop McLaughlin (11-3)
This week: Tuesday-Friday at IMG National Classic
Scoop: The Hurricanes played in the Farm Bureau Classic last week and now they will play in another tournament. That will test the pitching staff again. Starters Dominic Diaz, Carson Ragsdale, Chris Berglund and Preston Perez will be needed again this week.
6. Jesuit (14-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Jefferson, Wednesday vs. St. Ignatius (Ohio), Friday vs. St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.).
Scoop: The Tigers have won two of their past four, and the pair of victories each came by one run. After a game against Jefferson this week, Jesuit will test its strength against out-of-state opponents. Seven Tigers are hitting at least .300, while senior Steven Lugo leads the way with a .447 average.
7. Land O’Lakes (15-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Wesley Chapel, Thursday at Mitchell, Friday vs. Zephyrhills
Scoop: The Gators picked up their first loss at the Farm Bureau Classic, 3-2 in eight innings to Nature Coast. That was followed by wins over Weeki Wachee and Hernando. The toughest game this week appears to be at Mitchell, which is the hottest team in the area.
8. East Lake (14-4)
This week: Tuesday at Palm Harbor University, Thursday vs. Dunedin,
Scoop: East Lake won four games last week to take the Dunedin Spring Classic. The Eagles defeated Palm Harbor University 6-2 in the final. Christian James was named the tournament’s MVP and Kevin Lambert was named the top hitter. The Eagles have a rematch with PHU on Tuesday.
9. King (11-4)
This week: Thursday at Sickles, Saturday at Steinbrenner
Scoop: The Lions are on a two-game losing streak, and a loss to Gaither last week made it tougher for King to take a lead in the Class 7A-8 standings. With no more district games left on the schedule, the Lions need some help from other district competitors to improve their standing before the tournament next month.
10. Strawberry Crest (11-5)
This week: Tuesday at Durant, Thursday vs. East Bay,
Scoop: The Chargers suffered a brief post-Saladino slump, losing a game to 6-10 Alonso last week. They rebounded, though, with a nice win against Wharton. Pitching has been Strawberry Crest’s gem, as all four pitchers with at least 13 innings have ERAs of 1.72 or better. Senior Brandon Harris leads the way, striking out 53 in 40 â inning pitched.
11. Countryside (13-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. Pinellas Park, Thursday at Dixie Hollins, Friday at St. Petersburg
Scoop: The Cougars advanced to the Dunedin Spring Classic semifinals but lost to East Lake. They also dropped the consolation game against Clearwater Central Catholic. The Cougars will try to get back on track today in a big district game against Pinellas Park.
12. Osceola (13-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Gibbs, Wednesday vs. Inspiration Academy, Friday at Mitchell
Scoop: Last week started well, with two wins in the IMG tournament. But by the end of the week the Warriors suffered two big losses in Bradenton. The big game this week is at Mitchell.
13. Brandon (13-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. Braden River, Thursday vs. Plant City,
Scoop: The offense isn’t always there for the Eagles, who won a 1-0 game against Lennard (3-14) last week, but they’ve also shown they can lean on solid defense to get by. Brandon has given up more than two runs in a game just once in March.
14. Northeast (13-4)
This week: Thursday vs. Lakewood, Friday at Sunlake
Scoop: The Vikings won three of four on their spring break trip to South Carolina. In those three wins, they won by eight or more runs. Ryan Cook remains the hottest hitter, with a .397 average and 18 RBIs.
15. Plant (13-5)
This week: Thursday vs. Robinson
Scoop: What the Panthers have experienced is the opposite of the Saladino slump, following its semifinal appearance with big wins against Steinbrenner and Alonso. AJ Hubbard and Conner Scott have picked it up at the plate for Plant, and Scott, a Florida commit, has posted a pair of hits in two of the past three games.
16. Nature Coast (13-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Fivay, Friday at Hernando
Scoop: After a big win over Land O’Lakes in the Farm Bureau tournament, the Sharks fell to Mitchell, the eventual tournament champions. They still sit on top of the Class 5A, District 7 standings, but a big district game against second-place Hernando awaits on Friday.
17. Springstead (14-4)
This week: Monday at Pasco, Wednesday at Fivay
Scoop: The Eagles dropped a close one to South Sumter at the Farm Bureau tournament. Jake Murray is hitting .397 and Stephen Bienstock isn’t far behind at .361. Miguel Martinez has a 0.77 ERA and is 6-1 to lead a pitching staff that has a team ERA of 1.40.
18. Hillsborough (9-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Steinbrenner, Thursday vs. Tampa Bay Tech
Scoop: The Terriers responded to a disappointing Saladino Tournament finish with a 14-4 win against Chamberlain, but the true test will come this week against tournament champion Steinbrenner. The Terriers have given up at least four runs in three of their past four games, but they hope to make up for it at the plate, where Tim Elko leads the way with a .537 average and 18 RBIs.
19. Plant City (9-5)
This week: Tuesday at East Bay, Thursday at Brandon, Saturday at Durant
Scoop: The Raiders pulled out a close one against Bloomingdale last week, winning 4-3 in extra innings behind a 3-for-4 performance by Brenden Schultz. It only gets tougher from here for the Raiders, who have two upcoming games against 10-win clubs.
20. Durant (10-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Strawberry Crest, Thursday at Freedom, Saturday vs. Plant City
Scoop: The Cougars have a tough week against a pair of Saladino semifinalists, but Spencer Nelson and Jake Sullivan have proved they can be leaned on at the plate, posting .429 and .362 averages, respectively, and combining for 18 RBIs.
21. Gaither (9-6)
This week: Tuesday at Chamberlain, Thursday vs. Steinbrenner
Scoop: The Cowboys have been all over the place this season, but clutch wins like a 3-1 district victory against King last week have put them atop the Class 7A-8 standings with a 6-1 district record.
22. Robinson (12-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Blake, Thursday at Plant
Scoop: The Knights ride a two-game win streak into games against Blake and rival Plant this week. INF Matthew Steckel, who leads Robinson at the plate with a .420 average and 14 RBIs, could be the key to victory against a Panthers team that is equally as hot right now.
23. Riverview (12-6)
This week: Tuesday at Bloomingdale, Saturday at Gaither
Scoop: The Sharks are on a roll, winning seven of their last eight games. Senior Anthony Gonnella is still one of the best hitters around, posting a .388 average and 15 RBIs.
24. Newsome (11-5)
This week: no games scheduled
Scoop: The Wolves have a week off to rebound from last week’s 7-1 loss against Riverview. They’ll return next week with a game against winless Chamberlain before taking on a tough Durant squad.
25. Palm Harbor University (11-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. East Lake, Saturday at Sarasota
Scoop: The Hurricanes went 3-1 at the Dunedin tournament and were one bad inning away from repeating as tournament champions. PHU lost to East Lake 6-2 in the final. John Pichman has emerged as not only the team’s ace, but one of their top hitters. Brian Brown and A.J. Hrica are also swinging hot bats.
On the bubble: Calvary Christian (12-5), Northside Christian (13-3), Zephyrhills (9-7), Keswick Christian (13-2), Freedom (9-7), Seminole (9-7), Pinellas Park (9-8), Bloomingdale (9-7).