Can the Mustangs and Eagles match Calvary Christian, which went unbeaten the past two regular seasons?
1. Mitchell (18-0)
This week: Thursday vs. Zephyrhills
Why they stayed put: After getting by Land O’ Lakes 2-1 last week, the Mustangs have a very real chance of being undefeated prior to the last game of the season at Calvary Christian. That could be interesting since Calvary Christian went undefeated in the past two regular seasons. Mitchell pitches well, plays good defense and gets enough offense to win games. That’s a good formula to have when the playoffs begin.
2. East Lake (17-0)
This week: Wednesday at St. Petersburg, Friday vs. St. Petersburg
Why they stayed put: The week started with an 11-1 win over Tampa Prep. The games against the Green Devils this week finish off the Class 8A, District 7 schedule and wins would assure a No. 1 seed in the district tournament. The Eagles have scored eight runs or more in their past four games, so the bats are hot. That’s a good sign at this time of year.
3. Jesuit (16-2)
This week: Tuesday at Robinson, Wednesday at Jefferson
Why they stayed put: The games this week are the last ones against Class 6A, District 8 opponents. The Tigers are 8-0 in the district and would like to end the regular season undefeated in district play. Jesuit hits the ball all over the field. Bennett Lee is hitting .455 with nine doubles and seven triples. Camden Minacci still hasn’t given up a run in 33 innings pitched.
4. Calvary Christian (15-2)
This week: Tuesday at Clearwater Central Catholic, Thursday vs. Dunedin
Why they stayed put: The Warriors had a close one on Monday but survived Lakeland Christian 3-2. They needed a run in the bottom of the sixth to win that game. A win over CCC tonight would solidify the top spot in Class 4A, District 4. That’s nothing new for them. There are some good non-district games to end the season, including Mitchell, Venice and Jesuit.
5. Plant City (16-2)
This week: Tuesday at Bloomingdale, Thursday vs. East Bay
Why they moved up: The Raiders had to add a loss to their record when they forfeited the Saladino tournament final. But they picked up a win last week after Sickles had to forfeit 13 games for using an ineligible player. Parker Messick pitched a two-hit shutout last week in a 1-0 win over Riverview. He struck out 13. The pitching staff gives up fewer than two runs per game.
On the cusp
6. Springstead (16-2)
This week: Tuesday vs. Citrus, Thursday at Nature Coast
Why they moved up: The Eagles have now won five straight after two wins last week. Jack Jasiak, a USF commit, has his average up to .407 with 15 RBIs. Jiovel Lantigua has belted eight home runs, which ranks third in the state. His 31 RBIs are second in the state. Jasiak, Bryce Holmes, Steven Fitzgerald and Joe Berry have all thrown at least 20 innings so far.
7. Wharton (15-2)
This week: Tuesday at Steinbrenner, Thursday vs. Strawberry Crest
Why they moved up: One of the wins Wharton picked up last week for a forfeit by Sickles. But still, the Wildcats have been very good all season. They have now won seven straight, including a win over Plant and shutout of Freedom last week. A win over Strawberry Crest would lock down the top seed in Class 8A, District 4.
8. Lennard (13-3)
This week: Tuesday at Brandon, Thursday vs. Tampa Bay Tech
Why they moved down: Last week started with a 12-11 loss to Riverview. But the Longhorns bounced back nicely with wins over Braden River and Strawberry Crest. Both games this week are against Class 7A, District 9 opponents. They are already the top seed in the district. Levi Montero is hitting a gaudy .545 with seven doubles to lead a potent offense. Yazael Nunez has a 0.59 ERA in 35 2/3 innings pitched.
9. Leto (14-4)
This week: Tuesday at Freedom, Thursday vs. King
Why they moved up: The Falcons’ biggest loss this season, 11-1 to Sickles, turned out to be a forfeit win. That was still a bad game, but they haven’t played that poorly since. They got two Class 7A, District 8 wins last week to sew up the top seed in the district tournament. Sophomore Damien Breton leads the offense with a .390 average. Seniors Christian Suarez and Franklyn Hernandez eat up most of the innings on the mound.
10. Northeast (13-4)
This week: Tuesday at Pinellas Park, Wednesday at Lakewood, Thursday at Largo
Why they stayed put: The Vikings were cruising along until they played Calvary Christian on Thursday. That didn’t go so well, but it doesn’t mean they are a bad team. Northeast hits the ball all over the field, as its .362 team batting average proves. Sophomore Brad Myers has four home runs and is hitting .417. If the pitching can hold up, expect Northeast and Mitchell to see each other in the district and regional tournament.
11. Sickles (2-14)
This week: Tuesday vs. Alonso, Thursday at Hillsborough
Why they moved down: Forget the record. The Gryphons had an ineligible player on the roster for the first 14 games and had to forfeit 13 wins. But his impact was minimum and this is still the same team after the infraction came to light last week. They beat Plant 11-0 on Saturday and it seems like Sickles is on a mission to prove it’s still a team to beat. They did drop to third in the district and will have to play an extra game in order to advance to regionals. Don’t be surprised to see them head back up in the rankings.
12. Bishop McLaughlin (13-4)
This week: Tuesday vs. IMG Blue, Thursday vs. Seffner Christian
Why they moved up: The Hurricanes got two wins last week over out-o- town teams. It should be a bit tougher this week. A win over Seffner Christian would give them the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A, District 4 tournament. Derick Stager has put together a very good senior year. He has a .429 average with a home run. The strength has been the pitching staff, led by Justin Koehler, Hunter Gillespie and Bryce Carroll.
13. Steinbrenner (12-3)
This week: Tuesday vs. Wharton, Wednesday at Carrollwood Day, Thursday at Plant
Why they moved in: The Warriors have been fairly consistent all season. They did lose to Armwood on Friday so they will have to bounce back this week. Sophomore Tayden Hall, son of former Rays catcher Toby Hall, is hitting .379 in 14 games. Junior Brayden Heidel has been the top pitcher with a 5-1 record and a 1.87 ERA.
14. Bloomingdale (12-5)
This week: Tuesday vs. Plant City, Thursday at Riverview
Why they moved down: The Bulls have lost two straight and this week isn’t easy. They only got two hits in a 1-0 loss to Durant. Prior to that they scored seven in an 11-7 loss to Steinbrenner. If the pitching and offense come together in the same game, Bloomingdale is hard to beat.
This week: Tuesday at Hudson, Wednesday vs. Hudson, Friday-Saturday at Key West
Why they moved in: The Leopards are rolling. They have won eight straight since spring break and have outscored opponents 92-18. They have a pretty cool road trip planned this weekend before coming back next week with a game against rival Springstead. Dylan DuPhily is hitting .410 with two triples. Connor Morgan has three home runs. Marrick Aske has pitched 26 2/3 innings and is 4-2 with a 2.36 ERA.
On the bubble
Gaither (11-5), Land O’Lakes (11-4), Plant (11-7), Newsome (12-6), Dunedin (13-6), Berkeley Prep (12-5), Durant (12-6), Riverview (11-6), Armwood (10-6), Alonso (9-6).