There's bad news for the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference and the rest of the area baseball teams. Calvert Hall, which went 25-8 last season and captured the A Conference title, returns 11 players who are more experienced, according to coach Joe Binder.
It's no wonder the Cardinals are atop The Baltimore Sun's preseason baseball top 15 after finishing third in last year's final poll.
"Look for us to be a lot more seasoned this year," said Binder. "We were young last year."
The Cardinals are favored to win their fifth straight A Conference title, unless Mount St. Joseph's pitching comes around. Also, McDonogh, which is supposed to be a year away, could arrive early and challenge the Cardinals.
In the MSA B Conference, Patterson and Southern should battle for the title, but don't count out defending champion Gilman.
In Anne Arundel County, Northeast, Arundel and Broadneck are the top three in the Bay Division and Glen Burnie, Severna Park and Old Mill lead the way among the expected contenders from the Friendship Division.
In Baltimore County, the 4A-3A race should come down to Dulaney and Perry Hall, and, in the 2A-1A Division, Overlea and Hereford are the favorites.
In Harford County, C. Milton Wright is a heavy favorite and North Harford is considered a dark horse. In Howard County, Atholton is also a heavy favorite. South Carroll and North Carroll are set to battle it out in Carroll County.
G; Here is a look at The Baltimore Sun's preseason top 15.
1. CALVERT HALL
The four-time defending MSA A Conference champions are loaded once more. The Cardinals bring strong pitching, defense, hitting and experience to the field. On the mound, senior left-hander Andy Weltlinger, who was 11-1 last year and is bound for Cal State-Fullerton in the fall, will be the top starter, and junior left-hander Brian Matz is No. 2. Matz won a playoff game against Mount St. Joseph last season and has an exceptional fastball. Junior right-hander Larry Marino may start also. Senior outfielder Michael Hemling was the team's second-leading hitter last year, and Binder looks for more of the same this year. Hemling batted .360 with power. Senior Adam Eagan also will help at second base and in center field. He had two hits against Archbishop Curley in the 6-5 championship victory last year.
Northeast coach Harry Lentz enters his 25th year of coaching after leading the Eagles to a state-record 24-0 season and the Class 2A state championship. Five starters return, including All-County outfielder Derek Dolch, who hit .420 with 30 RBI. Dolch also went 4-0 on the mound with 28 strikeouts in 24 innings and had a 0.58 ERA. Also back are catcher Rich Spiegel (.473, 35 RBI), second baseman K.C. Murphy (.420, 30), shortstop Joe Hoyer (.328, 14) and third baseman Chad O'Brien (.463, 15). Reserve pitchers Wayne Hudson, Chris Kelly and Jason Hohman are up from the Eagles' 15-2 junior varsity squad.
3. MOUNT ST. JOSEPH
The Gaels, 20-5 for coach Dave Norton last year, have plenty of offense and defense this year. Several players batted over .300 last year, and they also have loads of power. Norton's big worry will be the lack of experienced pitching at the varsity level. One worry Norton won't have is hitting. Senior center fielder Jeff Mengel hit .338 last year; Bobby Bush, a senior first baseman/outfielder, hit over .350; Brian Dunn, a senior pitcher/shortstop, hit over .300, and senior right fielder Rick Braitsch batted around .290. All of these players have plenty of power. Dunn, a right-hander, should be the No. 1 pitcher, with senior right-hander Pat Rosko No. 2. Junior Ben Daniels Dunn struck out 37 in 23 innings last season.
It would appear that the defending Class 4A state champion Wildcats are in deep trouble after losing their top two pitchers and a host of talented hitters from last season. But coach Bernie Walter reminds everyone that nine newcomers played on the county-champion JV team last year. And though right-hander Jeff Beard (10-1) graduated and left-hander Zach Collins (8-1) left school, Walter is comfortable with senior right-hander Brian Rolocut (1-0) as his new No. 1 starter, calling him a possible "big-league prospect." Infielder Chris Durocher (.360, 16 RBI) returns, as does versatile senior Tre Overstreet. They'll try to help fill the void left by the departures of first baseman/third baseman Shawn Crews, who moved to Ohio, and shortstop Scott Young (.405, 34 steals), who graduated. "We have a good bunch of young players coming up. With seven seniors, plus the juniors and sophomores, it looks like we've got a nice blend,"
5. SEVERNA PARK