HomeTeam 15: Baseball rankings for Tampa Bay

The competition is stiff at the top, where nationally ranked Calvary Christian isnít the only early-season contender.
Christian Cairo steps up to the plate for Calvary Christian, which remains the team to beat this year. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN | Special to the Times)
Christian Cairo steps up to the plate for Calvary Christian, which remains the team to beat this year. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN | Special to the Times)
Published March 12
Updated March 12

Plenty of unbeatens in our top 10. Will that hold up through the week?

The Elite

1. Calvary Christian (4-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Tampa Prep

Why they stayed put: The Warriors picked up two wins last week, one of which was against Class 4A, District 4 rival Tampa Catholic. They were supposed to play three times but Pace Academy (Atlanta) had to back out of Saturday’s game. That game will be replaced with another team later in the season. Senior Nolan Hudi has not allowed a run in 9 1/3 innings pitched and has 15 strikeouts. He is also 6-for-6 at the plate. Senior Christian Cairo has a .545 batting average early in the season.

2. Jesuit (5-0)

This week: Tuesday at Blake, Wednesday at Spoto, Thursday at Winter Haven

Why they stayed put: The Tigers are not messing around early in the season. They have scored 59 runs in five games and won their last two games 17-1 and 15-0. The big game this week will be at Winter Haven. Junior Bennett Lee is hitting .667 (12-for-18) and has four doubles. The team is hitting .381. On the mound, Camden Minacci has been overpowering. He has 17 strikeouts in seven innings.

3. Mitchell (5-0)

This week: Tuesday at Sunlake, Wednesday at Hudson, Friday vs. Sunlake

Why they stayed put: The Mustangs have not given up more than three runs in any game. Jackson Miller has thrown the most innings (nine) and has struck out 15. James Hill has thrown six innings and struck out 10. Mitchell has used eight pitchers so far. Offense has been a bit of a struggle. Mason Miller leads the team with a .385 average and one home run. The Mustangs have two games against Class 7A, District 10 rival Sunlake this week.

4. Bishop McLaughlin (5-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Cambridge Christian, Thursday vs. Zephyrhills

Why they moved up: The Hurricanes have given up only two runs in four games and outscored opponents 36-2. They should continue the stretch this week. They have been able to both hit and pitch so far. Derick Stager is hitting .700 (7-for-10) with five walks. Justin Koehler is 2-0 with 18 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. Bishop McLaughlin certainly looks deep enough to have a 20-plus win season.

5. Northeast (5-0)

This week: Idle

Why they moved up: The Vikings will take spring break off, which might not be a good thing considering how well they have been playing. They put up 15 hits in an impressive 10-6 win over Dunedin last week. Just about the entire lineup is hitting, with a .418 team batting average. Brad Myers is hitting .562 and Nate Cannizzaro .588 to lead the offense. Senior Ryan Grimner has been the leading pitcher with a 2-0 record in seven innings pitched.

On the cusp

6. Plant (5-0)

This week: Tuesday at Sickles, Thursday vs. Hillsborough, Saturday vs. Plant City (Saladino tournament)

Why they moved up: The Panthers have three shutouts in their first five games. Keeping that up this week will be awfully tough. They have been hitting well, with J.D. Urso leading the way with a .438 average and five RBIs. Gabe Rincone has two home runs. Kyle Gates is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 10 innings.

7. Sickles (4-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Plant, Saturday vs. Durant (Saladino Tournament)

Why they moved down: The lone loss was at Bloomingdale last week. Plant will provide another test before heading into the Saladino Tournament. Throw out the Bloomingdale game and the Gryphons have won the other four handily. As it always is, pitching will be key in the Saladino . Senior Dylan Eskew (2-0, 0.00, 14 strikeouts) is a bona fide ace. Finding the pitching depth behind him will be the challenge. Eskew is also hitting .412, along with Kohl Robertson. Senior Danny Bernstein has been the hottest hitter with a .533 average and four doubles.

8. Plant City (4-1)

This week: Thursday vs. Strawberry Crest, Saturday vs. Plant (Saladino tournament)

Why they moved down: The Raiders need to bounce back after giving up 12 hits and 11 runs to Sickles to end last week. It’s not going to be easy this week and it certainly won’t be easy at the Saladino Tournament. Senior Cade Shissler has been a tough out so far. He is hitting .643 and has three home runs. Parker Messick is 2-0 with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings as the team’s ace.

9. East Lake (5-0)

This week: Tuesday–Friday at Duedin Spring Tournament

Why they stayed put: The Eagles haven’t really had a close game yet. That could and should change in the Dunedin tournament. Offense has been a problem in the past, but so far the Eagles are hitting .339 as a team. Parker Opie entered the week hitting .583 to lead the offense. Cooper Nelson is 2-0 and has 17 strikeouts in 11 innings.

10. Alonso (3-1)

This week: Saturday vs. Hillsborough (Saladino tournament)

Why they moved in: The only loss was by one run to Leto. Freshman Samuel Cole, who has not given up a run in six innings pitched, has been a welcome addition. Junior Sam Drumheller has been the No. 1 starter and has 15 strikeouts in nine innings pitched. Hitting was a concern last season but it appears to be better this year. The team is hitting .263 in the first two weeks.

Don’t overlook

11. Berkeley Prep (3-1)

This week: Thursday vs. Lakeland McKeel, Friday vs. Lakeland

Why they moved in: The Bucs usually have good pitching, and this season is no different. They have a team ERA of 0.54 in 26 innings pitched. That has made up for a light hitting offense so far. Senior John Dooley has thrown eight innings and allowed two runs. Junior Trey Hinchliffe is hitting .364. Lakeland is a big game this week and after that is a showdown with Calvary Christian.

12. Springstead (4-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Crystal River, Thursday vs. Central, Friday at Citrus

Why they stayed put: The Eagles aren’t hitting very well yet (.210 team average), but the pitching is off to a good start. Bryce Holmes, Jack Jasiak, Steven Fitzgerald and Joe Berry have all pitched more than five innings and done well. They should be able to get through this week, then comes the Farm Bureau Classic in Hernando.

13. Leto (4-1)

This week: Tuesday at Hillsborough, Saturday vs. Steinbrenner (Saladino tournament)

Why they moved down: The Falcons ended last week with an 11-0 loss to Plant. They will try to get some confidence back against a tough Hillsborough team. Then it’s on to the Saladino Tournament. Sophomore Damien Breton is hitting .500 (7-for-14) to lead the offense. Senior Christian Suarez has 20 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

14. Dunedin (3-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. IMG Academy (Dunedin Spring Tournament), Tuesday – Friday: Dunedin Spring Tournament

Why they moved down: The 10-6 loss against Northeast looks worse than it was. The Falcons had eight hits and only trailed by a run in the sixth inning. The lineup and pitching staff are good enough to win this week’s tournament. Adam Wonch and Dominic Baratta have live arms and should get better as the season goes on. Senior pitcher Tyler Vogel is out for a few more weeks with a broken left (non-throwing) wrist. His return will only deepen the pitching staff.

15. Lennard (4-0)

This week: Thursday at Jefferson, Saturday vs. King (Saladino tournament)

Whey they moved in: The Longhorns have been hitting and pitching, which isn’t a bad combination. Levi Montero is hitting .636 and has three doubles to lead an offense that is hitting .313. The pitching staff so far is led by Yazael Nunez, who has 16 strikeouts in eight innings. Lennard has a chance to really prove itself starting Saturday in the Saladino Tournament.

On the bubble

Armwood (3-1), Riverview (3-2), Hillsborough (2-2), St. Petersburg (3-2), Clearwater Central Catholic (2-2), Palm Harbor University (2-2), Nature Coast (2-2), Hernando (3-1)