The one thing we know so far this season? Area baseball is really, really good.
1. Jesuit (9-1)
This week: Wednesday vs. St. Ignatius (Ohio), Friday vs. Robinson
Why they stayed put: Okay, the Tigers did lose their first game Monday. But it was 10-9 in 10 innings at Sarasota. Not going to fault them for that one. Jesuit pounded out 16 hits against the Sailors. Andrew Kynes was 4-for-5. Have a feeling the Tigers will get back on track this week.
2. Calvary Christian (7-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. St. Ignatius (Ohio), Friday vs. Clearwater Central Catholic
Why they stayed put: The week started with a mercy-rule win over Tarpon Springs. Nolan Hudi, a TCU commit, still hasn’t allowed a run in 18 innings. But perhaps more impressive, he has a .538 batting average. The team is hitting .357. There are no easy outs in the lineup, so expect the Warriors to be trouble for the rest of the season.
3. Mitchell (12-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Northeast, Friday at Northeast
Why they stayed put: The Mustangs won the Farm Bureau Classic last week by defeating Springstead in the final. They have established themselves as the top team in the North Suncoast for now. There is no let up this week. These teams usually play good games against each other.
4. East Lake (9-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Strong Rock Christian (Ga.), Wednesday at Seminole, Friday vs. Seminole
Why they moved up: There was no post Dunedin Spring tournament let down. The Eagles played district foe Pinellas Park twice last week and shut them out in both games. Cooper Nelson threw a 2 hit shutout in the first game. Five different pitchers combined for a shutout in the second game. After an out of state opponent early in the week, the Eagles end with consecutive games against Class 8A, District 7 rival Seminole.
5. Plant City (11-1)
This week: Tuesday at Riverview, Friday vs. Bloomingdale
Why they moved up: The Raiders are the Saladino Tournament champs for the first time in school history. One of those wins came in the quarterfinals against Riverview in the seventh inning. Riverview awaits again this week. Plant City played six games last week, so it’s not easy to play well the next week. Only two games, but both will be a test.
On the cusp
6. Northeast (6-1)
This week: Tuesday at Mitchell, Friday vs. Mitchell
Why they moved down: The Vikings played two games last week, both against Osceola. They split those games. The 3-0 loss was the first of the season for a team that has been hitting the cover off the ball. Mitchell is rolling, so the Vikings are going to need to start hitting again.
7. Springstead (10-1)
This week: Tuesday at Bishop McLaughlin, Friday vs. Hernando
Why they moved up: The Eagles played in the Farm Bureau final last week and lost to Mitchell 7-5. No shame there. They are going to be a tough opponent for the rest of the season. There are only two games this week but they are against above average opponents. Springstead can hit and pitch, which should take them far.
8. Sickles (7-2)
This week: Wednesday vs. Chamberlain, Friday vs. Leto, Saturday at Brandon
Why they moved down: The Gryphons lost in 12 innings to Jefferson at Saladino last week. They did pick up two other wins in pool play. The big game this week should be on Friday against Leto. Senior Danny Bernstein is off to a good start (.444, 16 RBIs, two home runs).
9. Bishop McLaughlin (8-2)
This week: Today vs. Springstead, Wednesday vs. Bay Port (Wisc.), Thursday at Fivay
Why they moved down: The Hurricanes took a tough 11-0 loss to Mitchell in the semis of the Farm Bureau tournament last week. Right back into the first this week with three games in as many days. Springstead advanced to the Farm Bureau final, so that should be a good one. None of the games this week are district games, so they can use several pitchers and get at bats before playing the games that matter a bit more.
10. Leto (9-2)
This week: Wednesday vs. Gaither, Friday at Sickles
Why they moved up: The Falcons ran into Plant City in the Saladino and only lost 3-2. The Raiders won the title, so that’s not too bad. The sophomore duo of Damien Breton (.455) and R.J. Gutierrez (.412) are playing like seniors so far. Leto has been hitting the ball well, and the team ERA is 1.82. That’s good enough to go pretty far.
11. Wharton (8-2)
This week: Today vs. Tampa Bay Tech, Thursday at Strawberry Crest, Saturday vs. Gaither
Why they moved up: The Wildcats won three games at the Saladino last week before getting shut out by Leto. Strawberry Crest is a district game this week, so it has a bit extra meaning. Their only two losses this season were to Plant City and Leto. Brian Baughman has been a true ace. He is 3-0 with a 0.35 ERA in 20 innings pitched.
12. Plant (8-3)
This week: Today vs. Strawberry Crest, Thursday at Steinbrenner
Why they moved down: The Panthers went 2-1 at the Saladino, with the loss coming to eventual champion Plant City. They get right back to it this week. J.D. Urso is having a nice season, hitting .357. Gabe Rincone has four home runs.
13. Lennard (6-2)
This week: Today at East Bay, Thursday vs. Brandon, Saturday at Chamberlain
Whey they moved down: The Longhorns lost a one-run and two-run game and won a one-run game at the Saladino tournament. They have played more than a few close games this season. Brandon is a district game this week. Hayden Hensley is hitting .400 through the season’s first three weeks.
14. Riverview (7-3)
This week: Today vs. Plant City, Thursday at Tampa Bay Tech
Why they moved in: Not a bad week at the Saladino for the Sharks. Granted, they didn’t get past the quarterfinals, but the lone loss was to Plant City 4-3 on a walk off hit. The could get some revenge against Raiders today. It’s never easy playing the week after the Saladino.
15. Newsome (8-3)
This week: Today vs. Spoto, Thursday vs. Palm Harbor University
Why they moved in: The Wolves got to the semifinals of the Saladino, but then ran into Durant, which beat them 14-0. That game was probably an aberration. The interesting game this week is against PHU, which is playing much better.
On the bubble
Dunedin (7-4), Alonso (5-3), Berkeley Prep (5-3), St. Petersburg (8-4), Wesley Chapel (3-1)