HomeTeam 25: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay

Plant City catcher Hunter Emerine hits during practice. (Octavio Jones, Times)
Plant City catcher Hunter Emerine hits during practice. (Octavio Jones, Times)
Published March 13 2018
Updated March 13 2018

1. Calvary Christian (10-0)

This week: Today vs. Lovett (Ga.), Thursday vs. Berkeley Prep

The buzz: The Warriors march on after what turned out to be an easy week. There were lopsided wins over Tampa Catholic, Tampa Prep and Lakewood. Then on Monday they routed Tallahassee Lincoln 10-0. Another out-of-town school awaits and Berkeley Prep is no pushover.

2. Plant City (8-0)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. King, Wednesday vs. Armwood

The buzz: Can't imagine a better start for the Raiders. They opened the Saladino with a 4-0 win over Brandon. Austin Eldridge is hitting .400 through eight games and has a grand slam. Pitchers Parker Messick and T.J. Gayner may be the best duo in the area.

3. Plant (7-1)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. Lennard, Wednesday vs. East Bay

The buzz: The Panthers kicked off the Saladino on Saturday with a win … barely. They survived a 3-2 win over Strawberry Crest in eight innings. They are hitting the ball all over the place, with a team batting average of .368. Brock Fagler leads the team with three home runs.

4. East Lake (6-1)

This week: Wednesday vs. Largo, Thursday at Dunedin

The buzz: The Eagles dropped their first game of the season on Thursday vs. Sunlake. They bounced back nicely with a 7-0 win over Naples Barron Collier. Lucas Ismaili is off to a good start with a .476 average. Alex Venetos isn't bad either with a .450 average.

5. Sickles (6-1)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. Newsome, Wednesday vs. Wharton

The buzz: A lopsided 9-0 loss to Plant was followed by an 11-0 Saladino win over Spoto. The Ravens appear to have depth on the mound, which is good during tournament week. Chase Centala has pitched 13 ⅓ innings and is 1-1 with a 1.58 ERA.

6. Dunedin (7-1)

This week: Wednesday at IMG Academy, Thursday vs. East Lake, Friday at Boca Ciega

The buzz: The Falcons were dropped from the unbeaten ranks by CCC on Thursday. This week could be difficult with three games in as many days. Lake Fisher leads the offense with a .455 average and eight RBIs. Tyler Vogel has 17 strikeouts in 12 innings.

7. Nature Coast (8-0)

This week: Wednesday at Springstead

The buzz: One game this week, but it's a big one. Springstead is also undefeated and the Sharks only have one game this week, so expect to see ace Jonathan Gates on the mound. Gates has pitched 11 innings, has not allowed a run and struck out 25.

8. Alonso (5-2)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. Durant, Wednesday vs. Middleton

The buzz: Close losses to Durant and Palm Harbor University preceded the Saturday start to the Saladino tournament. The Ravens are off to a good start after a 2-0 win over Gaither. Senior pitcher Franco Aleman is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and has 34 strikeouts in 17 innings.

9. Bishop McLaughlin (6-1)

This week: Today at Fivay, Thursday at Zephyrhills

The buzz: The first loss came on Friday, 3-1 to Carrollwood Day. Two road games this week as the Hurricanes try to get back on track. Derick Stager is hitting the cover off the ball with a .562 average and two home runs.

10. Jefferson (6-1)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. Riverview, Wednesday vs. Hillsborough

The buzz: The Dragons are on a six-game win streak. The Saladino opened on Saturday with a win over Blake. They would have to be considered one of the teams to watch this week.

11. Jesuit (5-2)

This week: Wednesday vs. Tallahassee Lincoln, Friday vs. Merritt Island

The buzz: The Tigers are on a mini two-game win streak after easy wins over Blake and Seminole. They take on two out-of-town teams this week and it is sure to be challenging. Jesuit has a .383 team batting average, led by Carter Anderson (.500, eight RBIs).

12. Springstead (7-0)

This week: Wednesday vs. Nature Coast

The buzz: The Eagles aren't fooling around this year. They have not allowed more than three runs in a game. The big game this week is at Nature Coast, where they will likely face hard-throwing Jonathan Gates. These teams could meet again next week in the Farm Bureau tournament.

13. Mitchell (8-1)

This week:  Friday at Northeast

The buzz: This is Vikings week for the Mustangs. It started on a good note with a 14-3 win over Northeast. They have won eight straight after a loss on opening day. Northeast is a district rival and these teams usually battle for first place.

14. King (5-1)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. Plant City, Wednesday vs. Brandon

The buzz: The Lions are on a five-game win streak. They took care of Armwood in the opening round of the Saladino. It gets much tougher with Plant City. Addison Barger is hitting .438 with nine RBIs.

15. Hernando (6-2)

This week: Wednesday at Lynn Haven Mosley, Thursday vs. Louden (Tenn.)

The buzz: The Leopards head to Panama City for two games this week. The bounced back from a 12-1 loss to Springstead with a win over Cypress Creek. Sophomore Connor Morgan is hitting .400 with two home runs.

16. Carrollwood Day (6-1)

This week: Today vs. North Marion

The buzz: The Patriots have won five straight, including a one-run win at Bishop McLaughlin. Monday they eased past Immokalee 10-0. Rodrigo Montenegro leads offensively with a .385 average. He also has six walks and has been hit by a pitch five times.

17. Bloomingdale (5-2)

This week: Saladino tournament: Today vs. Chamberlain, Wednesday vs. Freedom

The buzz: The Bulls are 1-0 in the Saladino. Sophomore Brock Wilken is off to a good start with a .368 average.

18. Zephyrhills (7-0)

This week: Today vs. Wesley Chapel, Thursday vs. Bishop McLaughlin

The buzz: The Bulldogs are rolling early on. They have a quality win over Sunlake on their resume. It may be tough against Bishop McLaughlin, but win that game and the confidence goes even higher.

19. Leto (4-2)

This week: Saladino: Today vs. Freedom, Wednesday vs. Chamberlain

The buzz: Saladino did not start off on a good note with a 3-1 loss to Bloomingdale. Joshua Cruz is off to a nice start with a .529 average and 11 RBI.

20. Northside Christian (5-2)

This week: Today at St. Petersburg Catholic, Thursday vs. Bearden (Tenn.), Saturday vs. Boca Ciega

The buzz: The Mustangs look to be back on track with three straight wins. Boca Ciega might be the big test this week. Brendan Tracy has been good on the mound with a 0.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts in as many innings.

21. Cambridge Christian (8-1)

This week: No games scheduled

The buzz: Spring break off for the Lancers. They'll pick up again in a week at Keswick Christian. Sevas Cardona is hitting .500 with eight RBIs to lead the offense.

22. Sunlake (5-2)

This week: Tuesday at Clearwater, Thursday vs. Fort Myers Riverdale, Friday vs. Clearwater

The buzz: The Seahawks got a quality win over East Lake last week. Now comes two district games against the Tornadoes. Sunlake has won four straight.

23. Clearwater Central Catholic (6-3)

This week: Today at Tampa Catholic, Thursday at Lakewood

The buzz: The Marauders have figured things out after a slow start. They have won five straight after losing three of their first four. Michael Reagan has thrown two no-hitters so far. Blake Wright is hitting .391 to lead the offense.

24. Palm Harbor University (4-3)

This week: Today vs. Tallahassee Lincoln, Thursday vs. Sarasota Riverview

The buzz: The Hurricanes are hard to figure out. They had a nice win over district opponent Alonso, but followed that with an 8-7 loss to Clearwater. Lincoln is making the rounds this week and it will be another tough test.

25. Tampa Catholic (4-3)

This week: Today vs. Clearwater Central Catholic, Thursday at IMG Academy, Friday vs. Berkeley Prep

The buzz: The Crusaders have lost three of four after starting the season with three wins. This three-game week isn't going to be any easier. They are only hitting .208 as a team, which obviously has to improve.

On the bubble: Keswick Christian (8-1), Steinbrenner (3-3), Indian Rocks Christian (5-4), Strawberry Crest (4-3), Boca Ciega (6-3), Fivay (6-3), Newsome (5-2), Wharton (5-3)