HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay
1. Steinbrenner (17-5)
This week: Monday at Jefferson, Tuesday at Berkeley Prep, Thursday vs. Carrollwood Day
Scoop: The Warriors are riding a four-game win streak, outscoring their past four opponents 27-12. Considering Steinbrenner is in a three-team district alongside a floundering Sickles squad, it’s safe to say the Warriors could be starting their state playoff run with lots of momentum.
2. Alonso (17-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. Chamberlain, Thursday at King
Scoop: The Ravens are coming off an impressive 11-0 victory against Jefferson, a game in which Ryan Fernandez gave up just one hit in five frames and the Alonso offense scored all 11 runs by the third inning. That powerful combination could take the Ravens far this postseason.
3. Jesuit (19-4)
This week: Monday vs. Sarasota, Tuesday vs. Bartow
Scoop: The Tigers wrap up their regular season early this week, and they have a chance to do so on an impressive seven-game win streak. Most recently Jesuit topped rival Tampa Catholic 6-5 behind a three-RBI performance from Steven Lugo.
4. Land O’Lakes (19-2)
This week: Tuesday at Fivay, Wednesday vs. Sunlake
Scoop: The Gators were a perfect 10-0 in Class 6A, District 7 and will have the top seed in next week’s district tournament. They dropped their second game of the season last week, 2-0 to Sunlake. They’ll have a chance to avenge that loss on Wednesday and perhaps take some momentum into the postseason.
5. Berkeley Prep (16-5)
This week: Monday at Calvary Christian, Tuesday vs. Steinbrenner, Thursday vs. Hillsborough
Scoop: The Buccaneers have been one of the best teams in the area all season, and they’ll be truly tested in their final week against other potential state playoff contenders Steinbrenner and Hillsborough.
6. East Lake (17-5)
This week: Monday at Clearwater, Friday vs. Ridgewood
Scoop: Not only did the Eagles clinch the top spot in Class 8A, District 7, but they are still in the hunt for the PCAC north championship. They must beat Clearwater on Monday and see if Palm Harbor University beats Dunedin. If both win, there will be a three-way tie along with Countryside to see who plays in Thursday’s PCAC final. The Eagles did have their 10-game losing streak snapped by Palm Harbor University last week, but they bounced back with a win over Tarpon Springs on senior night.
7. Mitchell (17-5)
This week: Tuesday at River Ridge, Wednesday vs. Pasco, Thursday at Ridgewood
Scoop: Mitchell played well all season but was 3-2 in a very tough Class 7A, District 10 and ended up behind Sunlake, Osceola and Northeast. The Mustangs will clearly have to play better once the district tournament begins.
8. Osceola (16-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. St. Petersburg, Wednesday at Clearwater Central Catholic
Scoop: The Warriors won four straight after spring break but dropped a 2-1 game to Pinellas Park on Thursday. While the Warriors may struggle at times on offense, they can still pitch. Corey Ireson will be the ace in the postseason. He is 5-1 with a 0.45 ERA in nine appearances.
9. Bishop McLaughlin (16-5)
This week: Monday vs. Gulf, Tuesday at South Sumter, Wednesday at Central
Scoop: The Hurricanes were a perfect 7-0 in Class 3A, District 4 and edged Carrollwood Day by one game for the top seed. Bishop McLaughlin is hitting .316 as a team, led by Dillon Morton and his .508 average, 26 RBIs and five home runs.
10. Plant (16-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. King, Thursday at East Bay
Scoop: It should be a fight for first place between the Panthers and Steinbrenner in next week’s 8A-5 tournament, but Plant can give itself some good momentum heading into that potential matchup with a good final week against the Lions and an East Bay team that is on a seven-game losing streak.
11. Hillsborough (13-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. Carrollwood Day, Thursday at Berkeley Prep, Friday at Plant City
Scoop: The Terriers dropped a tough, extra-innings game against Robinson, but they can make up for it with a three-game final week of the regular season. That could be easier said than done, though, against these three opponents, all of which boast winning records and at least 12 victories on the season.
12. King (16-5)
This week: Tuesday at Plant, Thursday vs. Alonso
Scoop: King also has a tough regular-season conclusion this week, but the Lions are capable of being lights out on the mound. King has given up nine runs in its past five games, including a no-hitter against Leto and a shutout against Blake.
13. Brandon (16-5)
This week: Tuesday at Blake, Thursday vs. Strawberry Crest
Scoop: Strong pitching is usually the key to postseason success, and the Eagles definitely have that with Antonio Velez (0.44 ERA, 115 strikeouts) and Jack Hubbard (1.42 ERA, 6-2 record) taking most of the starts. But first, the Eagles will need to get through next week’s five-team district tournament. A victory against a tough Strawberry Crest team this week could give the Eagles momentum at the right time.
14. Northeast (17-5)
This week: Tuesday at Palm Harbor University, Friday vs. Pinellas Park
Scoop: The Vikings have a good mix of pitching and offense. They are hitting .306 overall, with Ryan Cook leading the way with a .388 average and 19 RBIs. Senior J.P. Hollandsworth is 6-0 with a 1.56 ERA in seven starts.
15. Nature Coast (17-3)
This week: Monday at Pasco, Tuesday at Springstead
Scoop: The Sharks have had an outstanding season. They clinched the top seed in Class 5A, District 7 with an 11-1 record. They scored just more than eight runs per game and have a team ERA of 2.46. They have won four straight and should take plenty of confidence into the district tournament.
16. Strawberry Crest (14-7)
This week: Tuesday at Bloomingdale, Thursday at Brandon
Scoop: Strawberry Crest flexed its offensive muscle in a 15-0 victory against Spoto last week; nine Chargers had at least one hit and three Chargers had at least two. Alex Kachler continues to lead the way at the plate as one of five chargers hitting at least .300.
17. Springstead (16-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. Nature Coast, Thursday vs. Central
Scoop: The Eagles have lost two straight, which is not a good sign as the playoffs approach. They were 10-0 in Class 6A, District 6 and will have the top seed next week, but with two good teams this week they might be limping into the tournament.
18. Countryside (16-7)
This week: Tuesday vs. Boca Ciega
Scoop: The Cougars are on a three-game win streak after two close wins last week over IMG and Clearwater. They are still in the hunt for the PCAC North championship. They will host the Class 8A, District 7 tournament next week, but it is a tough district from top to bottom (East Lake, Seminole, St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park).
19. Riverview (14-8)
This week: Tuesday vs. Robinson, Thursday vs. Spoto
Scoop: The Sharks had an off week last week, dropping games to Brandon and Gaither. They’ll need to end the regular season on a high note heading into a district tournament as one of four teams with a reasonable chance of winning it all.
20. Plant City (14-6)
This week: Tuesday at Leto, Friday vs. Hillsborough
Scoop: Plant City continues to be one of the hottest teams around, winning five of its past six matchups. The Raiders have outscored their past three opponents 9-3, and infielder Nick Palestrini has led the way during that span, finishing 3-for-7 at the plate with three runs scored.
21. Durant (13-7)
This week: Tuesday at Sickles, Thursday at Wharton
Scoop: Pitching has been a weak spot for the Cougars at times, but Durant has shown it can come through at the plate, including in last week’s 11-6, eight-inning victory against Plant, in which Spencer Nelson, Jake Sullivan and Jonathan Hermann all had at least three hits.
22. Gaither (11-9)
This week: Tuesday at Jefferson, Thursday at Tampa Bay Tech
Scoop: Consistency has been a problem for the Cowboys — they just ended a three-game losing streak with a win against Riverview last week — but they’ve got the ingredients of a winning team. Jose Cadenas continues to be one of the best hitters in the county (.400), and Gavin Gillespie is getting it done on the mound (0.96 ERA).
23. Robinson (14-7)
This week: Tuesday at Riverview, Thursday at Newsome
Scoop: The Knights have played one of the toughest schedules in the past couple weeks, taking on Plant, Jesuit and Hillsborough. That should prepare them well for the 6A-8 tournament — and a possible rematch with the Tigers — and a potential state playoff run.
24. Newsome (14-6)
This week: Tuesday vs. Tampa Bay Tech, Thursday vs. Robinson
Scoop: The Wolves have won their past three, including tough games against Durant and Palm Harbor University. They’ve also outscored those opponents 16-4, boasting a pitching staff that could carry the Wolves far in the postseason.
25. Palm Harbor University (12-8)
This week: Monday at Dunedin, Tuesday vs. Northeast
Scoop: The Hurricanes are in a brutal district with Newsome, Alonso and Riverview. They finished 1-5 in the district, but they could be the best 1-5 district team in the area. The Hurricanes beat East Lake last week, which threw the PCAC final into disarray.
On the bubble: Sunlake (10-6), Calvary Christian (16-6), Northside Christian (19-5), Freedom (9-10), Seminole (12-11), Bayshore Christian (8-6).