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HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for week of Feb. 23

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Mon. February 23, 2015 | Rodney Page and Kelly Parsons

HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for week of Feb. 23

1. East Lake (5-0)

This week: Tuesday at Clearwater, Wednesday at Dunedin, Friday at Seminole

Lowdown: The Eagles have the pitching, with Kyle Caldwell, Ryan Wall, Aidan Brady, Christian James and Luis Duran. And so far they have just enough offense. Reid Zitzelberg and Sawyer Wirth have been clutch, especially in a big win against Jesuit on Friday. Three road games this week will certainly test the Eagles. 

2. Plant (3-1)

This week: Friday at Alonso

Lowdown: With two home runs in the Panthers’ first four games, Kyle Tucker could be well on his way to leading the state in homers as he did last season. Meanwhile, Plant has rebounded nicely from its season-opening loss to Robinson, outscoring its next three opponents 8-1.

3. Dunedin (5-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Gulf, Wednesday vs. East Lake, Friday at River Ridge

Lowdown: Dunedin is one of the early surprise teams this season. The Falcons have hit the ball well. Alex Sexton is hitting .545 with five RBIs, Logan Jones .533 with seven RBIs and Ian Lisle .471. If the pitching holds up, the Falcons could have a very good season.

4. Bishop McLaughlin (4-1)

This week: Tuesday at Seffner Christian, Friday at Carrollwood Day

Lowdown: The Hurricanes’ only loss was to top-ranked East Lake, and they put up 18 runs in two games last week. Carson Ragsdale and Paul Coumoulos are both hitting nearly .500, and the pair combines for almost half of the Hurricanes’ hits. 

5. Seminole (4-0)

This week: Tuesday at Countryside, Friday vs. East Lake

Lowdown: The Warhawks have senior leadership this season, and so far it is showing. Jacob Silverstein is hitting over .700 after two weeks. Ethan Roberts, Tyler Koser and David Siegel are also hot at the plate. 

6. Brandon (4-1)

This week: Tuesday at Tampa Bay Tech, Friday vs. Plant City

Lowdown: Brandon was riding high at 4-0 until falling 9-2 to district rival Durant late last week. Antonio Velez has been key for the Eagles on both sides of the ball, posting a .500 batting average and 2-0 record — and unblemished ERA — on the mound. 

7. Alonso (3-1)

This week: Tuesday at Wharton, Friday vs. Plant

Lowdown: The Ravens have four players hitting at least .400, and that will be of good use to them in an upcoming rivalry game against Plant, a team that beat Alonso by a combined total of 32-2 in three meetings last year. 

8. Northeast (4-0)

This week: Tuesday at Pinellas Park, Wednesday at Dixie Hollins, Friday vs. Countryside

Lowdown: The left-handed duo of Colton Tison and David Sockol have started all four games and have yet to give up an earned run. Offensively, Jake Hale, Will Condon and Kobe Hartley have hit the ball well. 

9. Hillsborough (4-0)

This week: Tuesday at King, Friday at Armwood, Saturday at Lennard

Lowdown: The Terriers, who are led by Tim Elko and his .500 average and four RBIs, are the only undefeated team in Hillsborough County and have scored a staggering 38 runs. Their hardest competition yet will come this week against the Lions. 

10. Springstead (5-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Hernando, Friday vs. Osceola

Lowdown: The Eagles are tied with No. 1 East Lake for the best record in Tampa Bay. The competition ramps up this week for Springstead, with county rival Hernando on tap Tuesday. 

11. Hernando (3-1)

This week: Tuesday at Springstead, Friday at Central

Lowdown: The Leopards are starting strong in Class 5A, District 7, with all three wins against district foes. Senior outfielder Justin Young has a team-best .400 batting average and four runs scored, while catcher Owen Morgan leads the Leopards with four RBIs.

12. Lakewood (4-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Gibbs, Friday at Bayshore

Lowdown: The Spartans are hitting the ball all over the place. Jamie Robles (.545), Bo Bichette (.500), Donovan Pink (.500) and Jamaal Chaney (.400) are swinging hot bats. Pitching, however, is the question mark. 

13. Robinson (3-1)

This week: Tuesday at Spoto, Thursday vs. Jesuit, Friday at Freedom

Lowdown: The Knights’ only loss came Saturday at Bloomingdale by one run. Jesuit will obviously be a test this week. Matthew Steckel (.455), Jacob Jackson (.556), Nathan Doherty (.429) and Ricardo Montero (.357) need to keep the bats going. Michael Tini and Tommy Craparo have been solid early on the mound.

14. Bloomingdale (3-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. Riverview, Friday vs. Newsome

Lowdown: Pitching and defense have been good so far for the Bulls, but the offense has started slowly. They are only hitting .224 as a team. If the bats wake up, Bloomingdale should start rolling. 

15. Pinellas Park (3-1)

This week: Monday at Clearwater, Tuesday vs. Northeast

Lowdown: The Patriots are hitting .373 as a team, led by Zach Roberts (.417) and Triston Allen (.429). Allen has also performed well on the mound. Tuesday’s game against Northeast is a good early-season district game. 

16. Tarpon Springs (3-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. River Ridge, Friday vs. Sunlake

Lowdown: The Spongers continue to improve after a six-win season in 2014. River Ridge and Sunlake will provide good district tests this week as the Spongers try to keep up with district leader Dunedin. 

17. River Ridge (3-1)

This week: Tuesday at Tarpon Springs, Friday vs. Dunedin

Lowdown: The Royal Knights play the top two teams in the district this week, so they will find out where they stand in the early season. 

18. Calvary Christian (3-1)

This week: Thursday at Admiral Farragut, Saturday vs. Venice

Lowdown: The Warriors’ only loss came against Pinellas Park in the Georgiadis tournament and they should be tested this weekend against Venice. Jake Rothwell, Matheu Nelson, Marco Benedettini and Graham Hoffman have hit well so far. Johnnie Schneider is 3-0 on the mound. 

19. Newsome (4-1)

This week: Friday at Bloomingdale

Lowdown: New coach Dick Rohrberg has the Wolves rolling early. Pitching has been key, with Jacob Cross, Matt Kaslow, Matt Leslie, Gary Infante and Josh Lewis combining for a 0.50 ERA. 

20. Countryside (3-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Seminole, Thursday vs. Boca Ciega, Friday at Northeast

Lowdown: This is a big week for the Cougars, with tough district games vs. Seminole and Northeast. Matt Adams is hitting .455 and Tommy Labella .400 to provide the offensive spark. Adams also has a 0.70 ERA in two appearances. 

21. Jefferson (2-1) 

This week: Tuesday vs. Chamberlain, Thursday vs. King, Saturday vs. Armwood

Lowdown: The Dragons rebounded from an opening-day loss to Sickles by beating Blake and Leto convincingly. Jordan Norman, Anthony Perez, Nelson Maldonado and Robby Martin are all hitting over .400. 

22. Jesuit (1-4)

This week: Tuesday vs. Middleton, Thursday at Robinson, Friday at Tampa Catholic

Lowdown: The Tigers finally got a win Saturday over Lakeland. The problem so far has been offense. Jesuit is only hitting .230 as a team. Don’t expect that to last much longer. 

23. Durant (3-1)

This week: Tuesday at East Bay, Friday at Strawberry Crest

Lowdown: The Cougars’ only loss was on opening day to Newsome. Brandon Wheat is hitting .636 to lead the offense. 

24. Central (2-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Nature Coast, Friday vs. Hernando

Lowdown: The Bears have been stingy on the mound, with a team ERA of 0.35. The lone loss was Friday, 5-2 to Springstead. Offense has been problematic, but Matthew Warner is leading the team with a .444 average in 11 plate appearances. 

25. King (2-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. Hillsborough, Thursday at Jefferson, Saturday vs. Blake

Lowdown: The Lions have been up and down in the first four games. This week could be a tough one, especially at Jefferson. King has pitched well, but the offense needs to get on track. 

Teams to watch:  Clearwater Central Catholic (3-2), Indian Rocks Christian (3-2), Mitchell (2-2), St. Petersburg Catholic (2-1), Steinbrenner (2-2), Strawberry Crest (3-2), Wesley Chapel (4-3)

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