Thanks to a state championship last year in the largest state classification in Florida and a wealth of returning talent on the mound and in the field, the Alonso Ravens start the season as the No. 1 team in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Baseball Rankings.
Alonso rode the arm of all-state pitcher Thomas Dorminy to a state title last year, and he returns along with four other pitchers to give the Ravens one of the state's deepest pitching staffs.
There is plenty of talent in Florida, however, as witnessed by six teams from the state finding their way into the initial top 25.
Baseball-hungry states like Texas and California are also well-represented. Bellaire, which was ranked No. 1 in the Xcellent 25 for most of last season, starts the season as the No. 1 team in the Texas Baseball Coaches Association preseason rankings. The Cardinals come in one spot behind Alonso in the Xcellent 25. Bellaire is one of four Texas teams in the top 25.
Edison of Huntington Beach, meanwhile, gets a boost from the transfer of the talented Lopes brothers, Christian and Tim, from Valencia. Both were all-league players for the Vikings, with Christian ranked among the top shortstops in the country for the class of 2011. They'll join another talented junior, pitcher Henry Owens, to form a potent club. The Chargers, who are ranked third, are one of three California teams in the top 25.
The rest of the top 25 include many of the usual suspects, including perennial state champions Bishop Gorman of Nevada, Farragut of Tennessee, Owasso of Oklahoma and Rocky Mountain of Colorado. Last year's final No. 1 team, Sumrall of Mississippi, also makes the initial list at No. 5. We've also included a look at the next 25 best programs in the country for an overall preseason total of 50 Xcellent teams.
MAXPREPS XCELLENT 25 HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL NATIONAL RANKINGS
1. Alonso (Tampa, Fla.)
There are a bunch of great teams in Florida this year but Alonso’s pitching depth gives the Ravens the edge in choosing the state’s top team. The defending 6A state champions return five pitchers from last year’s team, led by MaxPreps All-American Thomas Dorminy. Others include Tyler Ding (2B/RHP), Brandon Johnson (1B/LHP), Jose Fernandez (RHP/Ut) and Matt Brandy (3B/RHP). The Ravens also have one of the state’s best shortstops in Tito Martinez.
Bellaire (Bellaire, Texas)
The Cardinals spent most of last season at the top of the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings, but a loss to Brazoswood in the state playoffs brought an early end to the season for coach Rocky Manuel’s club. However, Bellaire returns seven starters and two of the team’s top three pitchers, signaling that Bellaire should once again be the team to beat in Texas. Pitcher Toller Boardman was the district MVP as a sophomore and is joined by returning starters Alex Silver (SS, Sr.), Kirby Taylor (2B, Sr.), Kyle Chaskin (3B/P, Sr.), Daniel Gerow (C, Sr.) and Sean Washington (LHP/1B, Jr.).
3. Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
The Chargers have possibly the top two juniors in the state in 6-foot-5 pitcher Henry Owens and shortstop Christian Lopes. Owens was 9-1 for Edison last year with a 0.98 ERA and 87 strikeouts. Lopes, meanwhile, was an all-state and All-American pick for Valencia last year. Lopes, along with brother Tim (2B), give the Chargers one of the best double-play combinations in the state. The Lopes brothers join a lineup that includes a trio of solid hitters in Kyle Jones (.370), Tanner Phillips (.306) and Eric Snyder (.354). Jones plays third base while Phillips will play first base and Snyder roams the outfield. Starting catcher Jimmy Madden also returns. The Chargers lost to Capistrano Valley in the Southern Section Division I finals last year.
4. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
The Gaels began last season as the No. 1 team in the nation and finished in the top five. A No. 1 ranking wouldn’t be out of the question for Chris Sheff’s team as he has 14 letterman back from last year including standout infielder Johnny Field (.518, 14 HR), catcher Erik Van Meetren (.496, 12 HR) and sophomore sensation Joey Gallo (.402, 6 HR).
5. Sumrall (Sumrall, Miss.)
Last year’s No. 1 team in the country by MaxPreps, Sumrall returns the bulk of last year’s starting lineup to make a run at a third straight state championship. Coach Larry Knight has Chase Lewallen (SS/P, Sr.), Jackson Posey (3B/P, Sr.), Chad Guice (OF/C, Sr.), Luke Lowery (1B/P, Jr.), Conner Barron (2B/SS, Jr.), Austin Knight (C/P, Jr.) and Austin Carter (OF, Jr.) all back after playing significant minutes during last year’s undefeated season.
6. Walsh Jesuit (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio)
Walsh Jesuit figures to start the season near the top of the Xcellent 25 preseason baseball rankings thanks to the return of the three of the state’s best players in Tyler Skulina, Johnny Fasola and Greg Greve. Skulina is the returning state player of the year and is headed to the University of Virginia next year. Meanwhile Fasola has committed to Kansas State and Greve to Ohio State. The trio forms an impressive pitching corps for Walsh Jesuit with Skulina likely getting high consideration in the June MLB draft. Other standout seniors include Patrick Ammar and Zach O’Driscoll while lefthanded pitchers Tim Faix and Joe Keller head the list of juniors. Walsh Jesuit also has some standout sophomores as well with righthanded pitcher Forrest Perron and lefthanded pitchers Michael Marsinek.
7. Menchville (Newport News, Va.)
The Monarchs won the Division AAA state championship last year and are favored to do so again in 2010. Austin Chrismon, a senior P/3B, figures to be one of the state’s top players. He is headed to East Carolina next year. Coach Phil Forbes also has solid senior returning lettermen Teddy Brewer (OF), Hunter Lewis (P/1B), and Dan Moschler (3B). Junior pitcher DeShorn Lake is one of the top junior pitchers in the country according to Forbes while sophomore Josh Moore was 17-1 as a pitcher on the JV team last year. Others who figure to contribute include junior shortstop Deron Hanley and senior outfielder Cody Joyner.
8. Naples (Naples, Fla.)
Naples should have the offense and pitching to get them back to the 4A state championship game, which they won last year 3-2 over Bishop Moore to finish 33-1. According to coach Rick Turner, Naples has four senior pitchers and one junior, “all with good stuff.” The addition of transfers Kevin Lindham and Stephen Grove will add pop to the lineup. The return of all-state players Brad Fieger (P/3B, .452, 6 HR, 44 RBI) and Kyle Zech (OF, .447), as well as lettermen Cameron Griffin (P/IF, 390, 5-0), Bobby Oliver (OF, .362), Stephen Scott (C, .260) and Drew Jackson (P/IF, .294) give the Golden Eagles plenty of depth.
9. Owasso (Owasso, Okla.)
Sure, the Rams lost a ton of talent from last year’s 35-4 team, but it’s hard to pick against a program that has won three straight state championships and eight in the last 13 seasons. Coach Larry Turner has a young team this year with only five seniors, but three of them, Ryan Wilson, Garrett Schaede and Kyle Wood, have signed to play baseball at the college level next season. The Rams also have transfer Dylan Bundy from Sperry. Bundy was the Gatorade State Player of the Year last year as a sophomore.
10. Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.)
The Admirals won the Class AAA state championship again last year and return two of the state’s top juniors to make another run at the crown. Farragut will try for the state crown without last year’s head coach as Tommy Pharr has moved on to another school. Matt Buckner takes over and he’ll have two of the state’s best juniors in second baseman Nicky Delmonico (.465, 12 HR, 57 RBI), and pitcher Philip Pfeifer (12-2, 138 Ks, 1.53 ERA). Nick Williams (6-0, 0.82) gives the Admirals a strong second arm.
11. Lakeland (Lakeland, Fla.)
The Dreadnaughts fell to eventual champion Alonso in the 6A state finals, but they return most of the top hitters from last year’s team that went 23-3 overall including one of the nation’s top shortstops in Yordy Cabrera. Ranked No. 11 in the country by Baseball America and second among shortstops, Cabrera batted .462 last year with 28 RBI and four home runs. He’s joined in the starting lineup by Eric Arce (.373, 3 HR), Kevin Wortman (Jr., .286), and Kyle Wise (.357). Alec Asher, Brant Masters and Cabrera figure to carry the bulk of the pitching load.
12. Poway (Poway, Calif.)
The Titans look for a three-peat in the San Diego Section and coach Bob Parry might have the most talented team in his tenure at Poway. Thirteen players who combined for 27 home runs and 17 wins return with five players competing on both section championship teams. The Titans have power with Josh Anderson (IF, .479, 7 HR), Connor Joe (SS, Jr., .423, 5 HR), Trevin Lipe (OF, Sr., .347, 6 HR), Evan Thomas (.269, 4 HR), and Dillon Dooney (IF/C, .393, 4 HR), experience in the outfield with two-sport star Brett Thomas (.378, 1 HR, 35 runs), and a strong pitching staff headed by Keegan Yuhl (12-1, 2.51 ERA, 83 K, 75.1 IP).
13. Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins, Colo.)
The Lobos have won the last three 5A state championships in Colorado, but coach Scott Bullock must replace all-state players Bryan Peters (Nebraska) and Jake Stewart (Stanford) from a lineup that went 22-4 last year. The good news is that pitcher Marco Gonzales, who has won the championship game each of the past three seasons, returns along with senior P/SS Pierce Trumper and senior C Chris Roglen. Gonzales has already signed with Gonzaga while Trumper is headed to Arkansas and Matz will play at Air Force. Others who figure in the mix for the Lobos include senior 2B Luke White, senior utility Zac Chuvala and senior outfielder Nick McLimans.
14. Columbus (Miami, Fla.)
Coach Joe Weber calls this year’s Columbus squad the best team “on paper” that he has ever had. The Explorers were 24-9-1 last year and finished second in the 6A division, falling to Alonso in the state finals 4-3. Weber says he has 10 Division I players, including Lawrence Pardo (1B/LHP, Appalachian State), Manny Alvarez (2B, Campbell University), Jesse Pintado (SS/P, Florida International), Tyler Filliben (3B, Samford), Nick Collazo (C, North Carolina Asheville), Chris Gutierrez (LF, Pan American), Andres Perez Lobo (P, Florida International), Javier Salas (P, Miami), and CJ Oliva (P, Reinhardt College). Two juniors have also committed with Andy Suarez (LHP) headed to Miami and Kyle Prats (OF) going to Virginia Tech.
15. Brenham (Brenham, Texas)
The Cubs begin the season ranked No. 1 in the 4A division by the Texas Baseball Coaches Association. Brenham fell to Texas in the 4A semifinals last year and posted a 32-6 overall record, but the Cubs return three all-state players in pitcher Chase Wellbrock (.300, 11-0, 76 Ks, 1.14 ERA), first baseman Erich Weiss (.481, 34 RBI, 16 DBL), and junior shortstop Drake Roberts (.390, 35 RBI, 11 DBL, 4 HR). Other returning lettermen include Seth Spivey (Ut, .421, 9 DBL), Colten Walla (1B, Jr., .355, 21 RBI), Eric Preuss (1B/P, .310, 40 RBI, 6 HR) and Chance Bolcerek (OF, Jr., .394, 29 RBI, 10 DBL, 7 HR).
16. IMG Academies (Bradenton, Fla.)
It was difficult at times to tell just how good Pendleton was last year since it played a freelance schedule and did not participate in the Florida state playoffs, but a regular-season win over eventual 5A state champion South Fork boosted the Brandenton-based team to No. 7 in the final national rankings. John Ryan Murphy, a second-round pick by the New York Yankees, is gone, but pitchers Jimmy O'Neill (8-0) and Casey Mulholland (6-0) are back, along with shortstop Dillon Moyer (.398), outfielder Gavin Patton (.418) and infielder Richard Baerga (.350). Pendleton will also participate in the Anderson Bat Classic in April against some of the top competition in the country.
17. Chatsworth (Chatsworth, Calif.)
Coach Tom Meusborn’s Chatsworth Chancellors have won the Los Angeles City Championship the past three seasons and a total of seven in the past decade. Although he loses eight all-league players from last year’s team that went 30-4, Meusborn has a strong group of JV players that won the city title to complement a small core of returning lettermen. Derek Neely (1B, .389, 6 HR, 43 RBI), Christian Lopez (P, 4-0), Sean O’Connell (C, .442), and Steve Karkenny (OF, .300) all return and will get help from pitchers Brett Voets and Angel Rodriguez, each of whom won 10 games on the JV team last year.
18. Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
Made a surprisingly early exit from the Florida 5A state playoffs, but returns 15 letterman from last year’s team, including an outstanding pitching staff. Daniel Gibson was 9-2 last year with a 2.04 ERA while freshman Lance McCullers had six saves and batted .443 while earning MaxPreps Freshman of the Year honors. Willi Martin also returns on the mound after going 10-1 with 55 Ks.
19. The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas)
The Highlanders received the No. 2 preseason ranking in 5A by the Texas Baseball Coaches Association, based largely on the presence of pitcher Jameson Taillon who has been ranked by Baseball America as the nation’s top prospect. The Highlands lost in the state playoffs to College Park last year and finished 17-8-1 overall. Taillon will have an all-district catcher to throw to in Anthony Azar.
20. Moody (Corpus Christi, Texas)
The Trojans fell just short of a state title, falling to Texas in the 5A championship game. While standout pitchers like Justin Meza (16-1) and Andrew Cantus (14-1) are gone, Moody has plenty of offensive firepower with the likes of all-district honorees Michael Franco (.410) at second base, Kyle Mungia (.339) at designated hitter, Marcos Villanueva (.405) at catcher and Justin Perales (.459) at first base.
21. Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The Bulldogs topped American Heritage for the Florida 3A state championship last year and return seven starters along with the entire pitching staff. Topping the list is MaxPreps All-American Caleb Denmark, a senior third baseman who batted .462 with nine home runs, 13 doubles and 49 RBI last year. Second baseman David Perkins (.375, 38 RBI, 4 HR) also returns along with Austin Slater (.398, 36 RBI, 5 HR) and first baseman Hayden Hurst (Soph., .290, 4 HR). Mark Lumpa (11-0) and Michael Spence (6-1) head the pitching staff.
22. Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Barbe has the state’s best player in shortstop Garin Checchini, who was the lone junior on the 5A All-State Team in Louisiana last year. The Bucs have won the district title 14 of the past 15 years and have won five state titles since 1998.
23. South Forsyth (Cumming, Ga.)
With one of the nation’s top recruits in the starting lineup, the War Eagles look to improve on last year’s runner-up finish in the AAAAA division in Georgia. South Forsyth lost in two straight games to Pope in the finals, but it returns Zach Alvord, a shortstop ranked No. 33 in the country by Baseball America. Alvord hit .349 last year with 13 doubles and 13 home runs. He’s joined by fellow all-county players Andrew Barna (IF, 12 2B, 7 HR, .407), Patrick Olavaney (OF, 6 HR, 27 RBI, .311), Caden Bailey (IF, Jr., .315) and Keith Grabowski (OF, Jr., .309).
24. St. Rita (Chicago)
St. Rita returns two of the state’s top players from a team that went 34-6 last season and finished second in Class 4A to New Trier. State MVP Mark Payton is back in the outfield after hitting .438 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI. Shane Conlon also returns on the mound after posting a 9-1 record with a 2.81 ERA in 52.1 innings pitched.
25. Auburn (Auburn, Ala.)
The state champions started the playoffs as the seventh-ranked team in the 6A division last year but dropped just one game en route to the title, including a sweep of Oxford in the finals. Auburn gets the edge over teams from Wetumpka, Fairhope, Oxford, Grissom, Russell County, Vestavia Hills and Hoover thanks to a starting lineup that includes four all-state players. Junior Tanner Cimo was a first-team pick at second base while pitcher Drew Eilland (Sr.), third baseman Grant Massey (Jr.) and outfielder Todd Thompson (Sr.) were named honorable mention. Other returning starters include James Ponder and Trey Gregg. Auburn may be a bit down in pitching after losing all-state hurler Reid Carter, but the hitting and pitching should be stronger.
The Next 25
26. Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.)
Playing in the competitive Inter-Academic League, Germantown Academy will play plenty of tough opponents this year, including Penn Charter and Malvern Prep. Germantown Academy might have the edge, however, thanks to the return of all-conference standouts Sean Coyle in the infield and Keenan Kish at pitcher. Coyle is ranked No. 44 in the country by Baseball America while Kish ranks No. 85.
27. Northshore (Slidell, La.)
Northshore coach Rick Mauldin notes that it will be hard to duplicate the 34-2 season his team posted last year while winning the 5A state championship, however, he feels that his squad has the hitting and defense to play with the best the state of Louisiana has to offer. The Panthers return two of the team’s top hitters from last year in infielders Ryan Eades (.369, 6 HR, 53 RBI) and Taylor Eads (.490, 3 HR, 40 RBI). Chase Compton (.361, 35 RBI, 6 HR) also returns at an infield spot while Trey Rickrode (.283) will play second base. Breck Kline (2-0) joins Compton (6-0) as the team’s top two returning pitchers with Ryan Eades also seeing some time on the mound.
28. Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.)
Coach Greg Simmons and his Charlotte Christian squad will find out just how good they are this year as they play what Simmons calls his toughest schedule in 20 years of coaching. Although they lost their top two players from last year in Luke Bard (Ga. Tech) and Andy Clifford (Furman), seven other starters return, including Ty Linton, who is headed to UNC-Chapel Hill. Also back are shortstop Jake Watson, who signed with South Carolina, second baseman Trey Laney, who signed with Western Carolina and outfielder John Kincaid, who signed with Appalachian State.
29. Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Horizon has reached the state finals the past five seasons and could make it six in a row this year. The Huskies fell to Desert Ridge 9-8 in last year’s 5A Division II championship, but have three key starters back from last year in right-handed pitcher Joey Danner (6-2 record), shortstop Dillon Everett (.333) and second baseman John Rubino (.353). Seniors Dillon Englehart at third base and Conor Clancy at first base figure to contribute, according to coach Eric Kibler.
30. Wando (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.)
With seven starters back in the lineup, including the state’s top prospect in pitcher Drew Cisco, the Warriors have already secured the No. 1 ranking in the state by the South Carolina Coaches Association. Cisco figures to be a high draft pick by the Major Leagues in June. Others who figure to contribute include Reid Langdale (headed to Winthrop), Brad Cherry, Robbie Dodds, Evan Hunt, juniors Connor Bright and Jordan Eysen and freshman Nicholas Ciuffo.
31. Yucaipa (Yucaipa, Calif.)
Knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division II tournament, Yucaipa returns 17 letterman from last year’s team, including pitcher Taijuan Walker, who figures to be a high draft pick in June. Walker batted .427 but was also 4-0 on the mound with a 2.82 ERA. Pitcher Pedro Cota also returns after going 10-0 with a 1.34 ERA. Matt Davidson is gone after being drafted with the 35th overall pick in the MLB draft, but first baseman Wyatt Padgett (.443), second baseman Grady Espinosa (.329), pitcher Caleb Nazario (.455), utility Wilson Stewart (.348) and outfielders Bret Meservey (.400) and Brian Derryberry (.426) all return.
32. Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, N.C.)
The Knights have only been in existence for three seasons and have reached the state finals twice, winning it all last year with a 28-8 record. Coach Hal Bagwell loses state MVP Alex Wood, but returns six players who have already committed to play at the college level next year. Ardrey Kell returns three of its top pitchers in Ryan Butler (committed to Marshall), Alex Baker (Georgetown), and Ashton Lover (Francis Marion). The infield should also be strong with Cody Shelton (Wingate), Jack Reinheimer (East Carolina), and junior Logan Ratledge (NC State commit). Returning juniors Alex Leach (1B) and Chris McCue (P) also figure to sign with Division 1 colleges in the ensuing months.
33. Cartersville (Cartersville, Ga.)
The Purple Hurricanes lost one of the nation’s best players in Donovan Tate, who was drafted third overall in the Major League Baseball draft last June by the San Diego Padres. Nevertheless, coach Stuart Chester returns five starters from last year’s squad, including the two starting pitchers from the championship series against Columbus in Adam Clark and Levi Mauldin. Also returning are Laine Frazier at first base, Taylor Green at second base and Colton Montgomery in the outfield.
34. Russell County (Seale, Ala.)
With three all-state players returning from last year, Russell County figures to challenge Auburn for Alabama 6A supremacy. Shortstop Tyler Dial batted .446 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI last year while first baseman hit .455 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI. Pitcher John Mark Ramsey also returns after a stellar junior season that saw him post a 9-1 mark with a 0.93 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched.
35. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
The Monarchs were knocked out of the Southern Section playoffs last year by Edison and finished the year 24-6. Coach Burt Call returns three players headed to Division I colleges in all-league outfielder Cory Hahn (Arizona State), all-league shortstop Derek Campbell (Cal), and Jake Medina (Loyola Marymount). Campbell batted .340 with seven home runs last year while Hahn batted .367 with six home runs. Others Call expects to contribute include junior third baseman Ryan Teel, senior outfielder A.J. Roth and senior first baseman Tommy Colton.
36. La Cueva (Albuquerque, N.M.)
The Bears lost just two games last year, but one was to Rio Rancho in the state finals. La Cueva returns nine players from last year’s squad, including Nathan Ross (.436, 7 HR), Stephen Carbajal (.435), Ryan Winter (.328), Ryan Padilla (.406, 7 HR) and Zach Nelson (.385).
37. Fort Zumwalt South (St. Peters, Mo.)
Ranked No. 1 in the state in the preseason coaches poll, Fort Zumwalt South returns three key seniors in Fred Ford (1B/P), A.J. Walkenhorst (P) and Danny Brennan (SS/OF). Ford and Walkenhorst were the team’s top two pitchers during last year’s state championship run while Brennan and Ford were the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup. Senior Joe Hoffman figures to help out at catcher while junior second baseman Dan Seddon will team with Brennan in the middle of the infield.
38. Pensacola Catholic (Pensacola, Fla.)
The Crusaders return their top hitter and pitcher from a team that went 27-5 and lost to eventual state champion Bolles in the Florida 3A playoffs. Wes Mugarian was the pitcher of the year in the Pensacola area after posting a 7-0 mark with 80 Ks and a 0.50 ERA. Meanwhile Austin Farrell was the hitter of the year with a .455 average and nine home runs. Other returning all-area players include pitcher Cody Alling (Jr.), infielder Austen Smith, and infielder Wade Wass.
39. Poquoson (Poquoson, Va.)
The Islanders (28-1) won the Group AA crown behind the play of Kyle Crockett, who earned player of the year honors after going 13-0 on the mound with 96 strikeouts and a 0.91 ERA. He also batted .434 with three home runs. Poquoson also returns junior shortstop Tee McConnell, and junior outfielder Chad Funkhouser.
40. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
A year after winning the state title and finishing among the top teams in the country, the Patriots fell in the Florida 3A state finals to Bolles last year and finished 30-5. Coach Todd Fitz-Gerald feels his team will be better offensively than last year, thanks in part to the return of standouts like junior catcher Brandon Sedell (.412, 6 HR), sophomore first baseman Nick Travieso (.341, 6 HR), sophomore third baseman Mike Klement (.294, 4 HR) and senior shortstop Sebastian Gomez. The team’s top pitcher from last year, Jimmy Nesselt (11-1), also returns.
41. Pelham (Pelham, Ala.)
Coach Jeff Mauldin returns his top two players from a team that went 24-6 and lost to Hoover in the area playoffs. Michael Bishop was the Shelby County Player of the Year after batting .432 with eight home runs. Teammate Trae Santos was the pitcher of the year with a 6-1 mark and a 0.98 ERA. Also returning for Pelham is pitcher Trevor Fitts, who was 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA.
42. Lawrence (Lawrence, Kan.)
Albert Minnis transferred to Lawrence last year and paid huge dividends as he pitched Lawrence to a Kansas state championship. Minnis returns for his senior year and has already committed to play at Wichita State next season. The pitching rotation also returns Tanner Kilmer (LHP/1B) and Taylor Gentry (1B/RHP) while the double-play combination of Chris Parker (2B) and Landon Moseley (SS) returns intact.
43. Lexington Catholic (Lexington, Ky.)
Lexington Catholic coach Kevin Clary expects his team to have better team speed, better defense and continued top notch pitching this year after winning the Kentucky state championship in 2009. The return of Patrick Maronde (OF/P), Taylor Martin (P), Tyler Jackson (C), Tyler Wells (OF), Will Hurt (SS/P) and Chase Armstrong (OF) will make Lexington Catholic the team to beat this year.
44. Pearland (Pearland, Texas)
Coach Ben Pardo feels that Pearland (30-8-1) will have strong pitching and defense, but the loss of a strong senior class will hurt in the hitting department. Nevertheless, the Texas Baseball Coaches Association tabbed the Oilers No. 3 in the preseason rankings. Pearland will rely on the talents of Kelly Cross (C/P, .385), Kyle Cross (P/OF, .400), Drew Dekerlegand (SS, .405), Matt Rhodes (P/OF, 10-3), Brock Hartson (P/IF), and Keith Freund (OF). Rhodes and Derkelegand were both all-district selections last year.
45. Fairhope (Fairhope, Ala.)
Led by one of the nation’s top players in Darryl Norris, the Pirates hope to make a run at the 6A championship. Fairhope finished 32-12 last year and lost to Montgomery in the state playoffs. Norris was the 6A state player of the year after batting .487 with 13 home runs and posting an 8-3 record with 90 strikeouts and a 1.25 ERA in 61.2 innings pitched. Also back are Jordan Ebert (OF, Soph., .368, 5 HR), Evan East (C, Jr., .352, 6 HR), Wes Kent (2B, Jr., .328, 3 HR), Peyton Fuller (P, Jr., 6-0) and Garrett Pitts (SS, .405, 8 HR).
46. Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas)
The always-competitive Calallen Wildcats should be in the mix for a Texas 4A state championship after going 35-5 last season. Coach Steve Chapman will miss the talents of all-state pitcher Jordan John, who went 13-0 last year, but senior pitcher Rob Zastryzny (9-4) returns along with Nick Ginn (8-0). A solid lineup returns, including District Newcomer of the Year Wyatt Mathisen (SS, .407, 5 HR), along with Roland Resendez (1B, .388, 7 HR), Chad Vanaman (C, .311), Hunter Whetsell (OF, .339, 4 HR) and Brett Bell (OF, 368).
47. Toms River South (Toms River, N.J.)
The Indians return 17 players from last year’s team that went 22-8, including pitchers Andrew McGee, infielder Kyle Perry and catcher Dan Scheller.
48. St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
Two years removed from winning the state championship, the Eagles could be in a position to challenge again, thanks to the return of senior All-American candidate Stetson Allie. The pitcher/infielder is ranked No. 8 by Baseball America and has committed to North Carolina, however he will likely be a first-round pick in the June MLB draft. The son of coach Danny Allie, Stetson batted .446 with five home runs and 26 RBI as a junior. The Eagles also return all-conference selections Cody Cooper, Alex Lavisky, Ross Kivett and Andrew Busser.
49. Indianapolis Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.)
The Irish posted 26 straight wins last year before falling to Center Grove in the 4A state playoffs. Cathedral has the state’s best player in pitcher Dillon Peters, a junior who has already committed to Texas. He was the city player of the year in Indianapolis after posting a 10-0 record as a sophomore. Other returning all-city picks include senior outfielder Scott Miller and junior third baseman Phil Mosey.
50. Calvert Hall (Baltimore, Md.)
Four returning senior pitchers from a team that has went 26-4 last year and won its fifth straight MIAA championship should help Calvert Hall earn a sixth title in 2010. Blake Geiger was 9-1 last year while Mike Trionfo was 8-0. Ryan Swearingen was 4-1 and Dominic Sgroi was 3-2. Top returning starters include Greg Bryant (.359) at shortstop, Patrick Fitzgerald at second base (.359), Alex Lenovitz at first base (.444), Matt Bosse at DH (.417), Ryan Welling at catcher (.298), Scott Merkel in right field (.295) and Alex Pastorius in centerfield.