Baseball: The poll

March 17, 2010

1. Calvert Hall

Coach: Lou Eckerl Last season: 26-4, ranked No. 1

Postseason: Won record fifth straight MIAA A Conference title

Outlook: The perennial No. 1 lost two gifted starting pitchers, but depth is the team's constant. Greg Bryant, Patrick Fitzgerald, Alex Lenovitz and Matt Bosse are productive on offense. Until another team proves it's better, Calvert Hall is No. 1.

2. Severna Park

Coach: Jim McCandless Last season: 21-2, No. 2

Postseason: Class 4A state champion

Outlook: Among Baseball America's Top 25 nationally at No. 25 and with 12 seniors in the mix, including shortstop Kyle Convissar and catcher Alex Ramsay, the Falcons hope to be in the running for another title.

3. Hammond

Coach: Mike Lerner Last season: 15-3, unranked

Postseason: 2A regional semifinalist

Outlook: For the Golden Bears, it will be all about pitching, defense and experience. They have all three with seven starters back, including four preseason All-State prospects in Danny Wissmann, Travis and Tyler Clark, and Jared Christensen.

4. C. Milton Wright

Coach: Tony Blackburn Last season: 15-5, No. 7

Postseason: 4A regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Mustangs return their No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers, senior Brad Markey and junior Bobby Ruse, who have committed to Georgia Tech and Maryland, respectively. Blackburn hopes hitting will improve and will look for pitching help from junior transfer Jonathan Cobo.

5. Cardinal Gibbons

Coach: Matt Foster Last season: 19-10, No. 3

Postseason: MIAA A Conference runner-up

Outlook: The Cardinals return 11 seniors and six starters from the team that made it to the A Conference final for the first time in 10 years. Though they've lost some key performers, their three top pitchers are back: Eric Drechsler, Chris Peltz and Steve Schillingburg. Drechsler (.536 average) was also the team's leading hitter.

6. Westminster

Coach: Bryan Harman Last season: 13-5, No. 12

Postseason: 4A regional finalist

Outlook: The Owls are loaded, with a complete starting lineup returning. "We want to make it to at least the state semifinals," Harman said. "That's realistic if we play to our potential." Seniors Calvin Turner and Kyle Zeigler are the anchors. Turner went 5-1 on the mound last season, and Zeigler, a center fielder and shortstop, batted .420.

7. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Steve Miller Last season: 22-10, unranked

Postseason: MIAA A Conference second round

Outlook: The Cavaliers started five freshmen - Ryan Wagner, Austin Clark, Sean Miller, Jamall Clarke and Derek Wells - last season. All are back, bigger, stronger and better.

8. Bel Air

Coach: John Swanson Record: 14-3, No. 10

Postseason: 3A regional semifinalist

Outlook: Dropping to Class 2A for one year, the Bobcats could make a lot of noise in the postseason. Senior pitcher Zach Nadolny (6-1, 1.16 ERA) and catcher Sean Lapouraille will provide the leadership.

9. Chesapeake-AA

Coach: Jim Simms Last season: 10-9, unranked

Postseason: 4A regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Cougars roamed under the radar last season, but with 12 varsity players back, including eight starters and two coaches' preseason All-State selections in pitcher Jason Seitler (set school record with 86 strikeouts) and shortstop Michael Marsh (batted .610 in the regular season), those days are over.

10. River Hill

Coach: Wes McCoy Last season: 16-6, No. 5

Postseason: 2A state champion

Outlook: The Hawks lost their pitching ace to graduation but return seven starters, including pitcher Brandon LaStream, who had two complete-game playoff wins. And they've got anchor Christian Laidley, who hit .440, in center field. The Hawks keep soaring.

11. Mount St. Joseph

Coach: Dave Norton Last season: 17-11, unranked

Postseason: MIAA A Conference second round

Outlook: The Gaels have two established pitchers in Zach Spahn and Travis O'Brien, speed in the outfield and hitting. They'll be good. If pitching coming up from the junior varsity develops, Norton said, they'll be "very good."

12. Loyola

Coach: Jim Crowley Last season: 21-9, No. 6

Postseason: MIAA A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: The Dons have 14 players back, including starters A.J. Lardo, a junior, and seniors Troy Marrow, Ryan Cullen and Ian Sedney. Sedney, the team's sure-gloved shortstop, will pull double duty as the third starter on the mound.

13. Fallston

Coach: Joe Connolly Last season: 20-2, No. 4

Postseason: 3A state finalist

Outlook: The Cougars lost their No. 1 pitcher, Shane Hollman (3-0, 2.10 ERA), to a knee injury but have a strong outfield, solid hitting and two returning pitchers. They might start slowly, but they should be solid by playoff time.

14. Atholton

Coach: Kevin Kelly Last season: 16-5, No. 14

Postseason: 3A regional finalist

Outlook: The Raiders have seven starters back, including shortstop Kory Britton, who also will take on expanded pitching duties. The key to success for Atholton is to stay healthy. Only 13 students tried out for the team, and Atholton will start with 12 on the roster.

15. Towson

Coach: William Yosca Last season: 8-6, unranked

Postseason: 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: Towson rounded into shape for the playoffs last season and showed what it could accomplish. Look for senior pitchers Nick Karsos and Jim Francis and three-year varsity player Mike Gettier at third to keep the Generals advancing.

Others considered: Arundel (13-11, No. 15), Digital Harbor (9-5, unranked), Hereford (8-9, unranked), Northeast (11-9, unranked), Sparrows Point (8-10, unranked)

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