Baseball: The poll

Compiled by Sandra McKee after consulting with coaches

March 17, 2011

1. Gilman

Coach: Larry Sheets

Last season: 27-5, No. 2

Postseason: A Conference champion

Outlook: Second-year coach Sheets has much to live up to. The Greyhounds won their first A Conference title since 1996 and beat five-time defending champion Calvert Hall in the final to do it. Nine juniors return this season. The Greyhounds have depth on the mound, with Brandon Cassas, Matt Collins, Mike Dunbar and Ryan Ripken returning. The squad will attempt to prove for a second year that discipline and confidence can work miracles.

2. C. Milton Wright

Coach: Tony Blackburn

Last season: 23-0, No. 1

Postseason: Class 3A state champion

Outlook: Blackburn says his team will be inexperienced, with just four starters back. But three of them are talented seniors: catcher Andrew Clow, who caught 12 shutouts; left-handed pitcher Jon Cobo, who was undefeated and threw a one-hitter and a shutout; and right-hander Bobby Ruse, who had five shutouts.

3. Severna Park

Coach: Jim McCandless

Last season: 19-4, No. 4

Playoffs: Class 4A regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Falcons have a competitive squad with a mix of senior leadership to go with a group of underclassmen from the highly successful junior varsity team. The overall pitching depth is improved, but the team will need underclassmen to adjust to the varsity level quickly to fill the offensive void left from the loss of 13 seniors. Senior third baseman Brent Jones, a preseason All-State selection, will be the unquestioned team leader.

4. Archbishop Spalding

Coach: Jeff Palumbo

Last season: 25-9, No. 7

Postseason: MIAA A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: The Cavaliers did a lot with a young team last season, and there's a good chance they'll do more this season. Palumbo, in his first year with the Cavs, points to senior third baseman Austin Neary and senior second baseman Ryan Metzler, and three returning starting pitchers (Ryan Wagner, Austin Clark and Joe Benitez) as key contributors.

5. Calvert Hall

Coach: Lou Eckerl

Last season: 23-11, No. 6

Postseason: A Conference finalist

Outlook: After last season's runner-up finish to Gilman, the Cardinals are rededicated. Eckerl said he has not seen his team work this hard in the past nine years. The Cardinals will be led by third-year outfield starters Matt Bosse, Justin Fratantuono and Alex Pastorius.

6. John Carroll

Coach: Joe Stetka

Last season: 12-16, unranked

Postseason: None

Outlook: The 12 returning seniors, including K.J. Hockaday (Maryland), Brendan Butler (Towson), Trent Shaw (North Carolina-Asheville) and David McGee (York), will bring experience and talent. Stetka believes they will pack the Patriots lineup with solid hitting. If the pitching holds up, he said, his squad could make the MIAA A Conference playoffs for the first time in more than 10 years.

7. Mount St. Joseph

Coach: Dave Norton

Last season: 19-12, No. 9

Playoffs: A Conference quarterfinalist

Outlook: A mixture of veterans and newcomers, the Gaels will depend on senior left-hander Thomas Solomon and senior right-hander Gehrig McCracken on the mound, along with junior catcher Nick Payne, senior second baseman Patrick Rogers and senior shortstop Ryan Jurney for defense and hitting.

8. Atholton

Coach: Kevin Kelly

Last season: 20-4, No. 5

Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist

Outlook: All fingers in Howard County are pointing at Atholton as the team to watch. The Raiders have a strong nucleus with senior shortstop and pitcher Kory Britton (.448 batting average; 6-1, 2.66 ERA) and senior catcher and pitcher Paul Beers (.390; 4-1, 1.17) anchoring the lineup.

9. Franklin

Coach: Timothy Gordon

Last season: 14-7, unranked

Postseason: Class 3A regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Indians have nine starters back and will be led by preseason All-State selection Joey Dorsey, who has signed with La Salle. Franklin's strengths will be outfield defense, hitting and a pitching rotation anchored by senior Josh Sherer.

10. Chesapeake-AA

Coach: Ken King

Last season: 18-8, No. 10

Postseason: Class 4A state finalist

Outlook: King, new this season, inherits a veteran squad that includes 10 seniors, including starters Brian Musgrove (left fielder-pitcher), A.J. McKenzie (center fielder) and Jordan Myers (first baseman) — the team's returning leading hitter at .394. The No. 1 pitcher will be 6-foot-5 Jake Bram.

11. Fallston

Coach: Joe Connolly

Last season: 15-7, No. 12

Postseason: Class 2A regional semifinalist

Outlook: With six returning seniors, led by center fielder Brandon Del Pilar (.395) and pitchers John Hetterman and Justin Sommer, the team plans to take advantage of competitive, smart, focused play.

12. Westminster

Coach: Brian Harmon

Last season: 17-5, No. 8

Postseason: Class 4A regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Owls return five starters, including two left-handed pitchers — Brandon Taylor (5-2, 1.16 ERA) and Chad Diehl (4-0, 0.58 ERA). Catcher Cody Harman (.466), second baseman Mitch McVerry and infielder Brandon Nelson also are back.

13. Dulaney

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