Opening week went about as expected around Tampa Bay, but there are several matchups that could test teams on the slate this week.
1. Jesuit (2-0)
This week: Wednesday vs. Clearwater, Thursday vs. Boca Ciega, Saturday vs. Orlando Bishop Moore
The scoop: The top-ranked team in the nation by some publications, the Tigers did not have any trouble on opening week. They defeated Blake and rival Tampa Catholic by the 10-run rule. So far, six pitchers have thrown at least an inning from this deep rotation. With a lineup full of hitters and so many good arms, expect more lopsided games this season.
2. Mitchell (3-0)
This week: Tuesday at Sunlake, Friday vs. Sunlake
The scoop: The Mustangs won the Steve Georgiadis tournament at Seminole last week. Jackson Miller, Mason Miller, Kyle Murphy and Logan Scheu were named to the All-Tournament team. Jackson and Mason Miller (not related) will get plenty attention from major league scouts throughout the season. Sunlake is a district opponent, so both teams will get an early scouting report for the district tournament.
3. Calvary Christian (3-0)
This week: Tuesday at Tampa Catholic, Friday at Venice
The scoop: The Warriors lost some talent from last season, including top pitchers like Nolan Hudi, Josh Emerson, Cameron Barrier and Braden Halladay. But juniors Jack Cebert, Tyler Dietz and Tommy White have pitched well so far. White is also a top hitter. Vince Smith (FSU), Pierce Chambers (TCU) and Landen Maroudis (N.C. State) are other key players on a very deep team.
4. Wharton (2-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Alonso, Thursday vs. Palm Harbor University
The scoop: The Wildcats won 19 games last season and many key contributors are back this season. Juniors Zach Ehrhard, Dylan McDonald and Frank Micallef are already off to good starts at the plate. Carson Caso, Riley Glover and Ryan Fry likely will be the main pitchers.
5. East Lake (2-1)
This week: Wednesday vs. Gaither, Thursday vs. Northside Christian, Friday at Gaither
The scoop: The Eagles started the season with a thud after a loss to Clearwater. But they did bounce back with wins over St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs. The pitching staff is too good to go into a long losing streak. The entire rotation is back, including Cooper Nelson, Ryan Slater and Nate Culver. Lucas Ismaili and Josh Pigozzo should lead the offense.
6. Berkeley Prep (2-0)
This week: Tuesday at Lakeland Santa Fe, Thursday at Lakeland McKeel, Friday vs. Clearwater Central Catholic
The scoop: Got a feeling the Bucs are going to be pretty good this season. They already have an impressive win over Lakewood Ranch. Pitchers Will Parkinson and Ian Brown have been impressive so far. Freshman Cade Kurland has two triples and Alex Haire hit a home run against Tampa Catholic. The Bucs may have all three phases covered this season.
7. Steinbrenner (2-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Plant, Thursday at Sickles
The scoop: The week started on Monday with a win over Jefferson. Two more competitive games remain. So far, it appears as if the Warriors will be a tough out. Seniors Brayden Heidel, Donavan Garcia, Griffin Garcia and Ryan Lowder bring experience to a deep roster. Junior catcher Tayden Hall is committed to USF. The Warriors have used six pitchers in two games, so it looks as if there is depth on the mound.
8. Northeast (3-1)
This week: Tuesday at Boca Ciega
The scoop: The lone loss was to Mitchell in the Georgiadis tournament. The Vikings are going to hit the ball all over the field. Senior outfielder Cameron Collier is a USF commit. Brad Myers, Nate Cannizzaro and Amai Rivera-Martinez can all hit. LHP Eddy Castellanos and RHP Sean Melanson should be the main pitchers. There is speed, power and pitching depth. If they can play defense, the Vikings will go far.
9. Bloomingdale (1-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Robinson, Thursday vs. East Bay
The scoop: The season started with a 10-inning loss to Steinbrenner. That was followed by a 6-3 win over Plant City. That’s two tough games to start the season. Robinson is playing well, so the slate is not getting any easier. Sophomore Drake Harman and Dominic Gonnella are off to good starts at the plate. Catcher Brock Wilken is a pro prospect with plenty of power.
10. Plant City (1-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Strawberry Crest, Thursday at Armwood
The scoop: The Raiders dropped a game last week to Bloomingdale, but they are still the defending Class 8A state champs. Granted, several key players from that team graduated, but there is still plenty of talent back. Cole Cothren, Tyler Dowdy, Jarod Wingo, Mario Williams and Chris Rodriguez all return. Coach Mike Fryrear said he also likes shortstop Alex Rodriguez as well as junior Ryan Robinson and sophomore Colin Shultz.
11. Leto (2-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Middleton, Thursday vs. Tampa Bay Tech
The scoop: Falcons coach JJ Pizzio thought his team would be able to swing the bat this season. So far he is right. Leto has scored 23 runs in its first two games. It has also allowed 16 runs, so pitching will have to get better. RJ Gutierrez and Coltin Pizzio are top notch middle infielders. Damian Breton, Brayan Cruz and Mikey Camacho can also hit.
12. Palm Harbor University (2-0)
This week: Tuesday at Sickles, Thursday at Wharton
The scoop: The Hurricanes scored 13 runs each in wins over St. Petersburg and Countryside last week. Now comes trips to two of Tampa’s better teams. First baseman Pat Keenan, second baseman Dustin Low and shortstop Jake Mummau all return to solidify the infield. PHU has had trouble scoring in the past, but if the offense is there, the Hurricanes are going to be tough to deal with.
13. Osceola (2-1)
This week: Wednesday at Dixie Hollins, Friday vs. Dunedin
The scoop: The Warriors have an ace in pitcher Corey Braun. But Aaron Deegan can also pitch and he hits third in the lineup. There are seven juniors on the roster and only three seniors. This is a team that reached the region final last season and could do even better this year.
14. Seminole (2-1)
This week: Tuesday vs. Bradenton Southeast, Friday vs. Dixie Hollins
The scoop: The Warhawks, who lost to Mitchell in the Georgiadis tournament, finished last season well and should be better this year. Ashton Fedorek, Noah Palmeise and Jordy Owens should anchor the pitching staff. Mike Ridge, Tyler Strickland, Victor Clanzy and Dylan Silverstein and Jean Ovalles should lead the offense.
15. Springstead (3-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Weeki Wachee, Friday at Weeki Wachee
The scoop: Top pitcher Jack Jasiak is now at USF, but the Eagles are still off to a good start. Junior Jake Jasiak will be one of the top offensive players. Bryce Holmes, Jake Miller and Joey Hopper are other key returners. Weeki Wachee is improved and could be a challenge this week.
On the bubble
Land O’Lakes (2-0), Sickles (1-1), Newsome (1-1), Wiregrass Ranch (2-1), Robinson (2-0), Pasco (2-0), Hillsborough (3-0), Bishop McLaughlin (1-1), River Ridge (1-0), Dunedin (2-1)