1. Calvert Hall
Coach: Lou Eckerl
Last season: 30-6, No. 1
Postseason: MIAA A Conference champion
Outlook: After returning to the top of the conference in 2012, the Cardinals enter as the favorite to slug their way to another title. Senior catcher Alex Murphy could set several offensive records. Senior outfielder Ron Farley batted .733 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs in the playoffs last year.
Coach: Dave Boteler
Last season: 19-5, No. 8
Postseason: Class 2A South regional finalist
Outlook: With most of their players returning, the Gladiators hope to improve on last season's 1-0 loss to Patuxent in the regional final, Boteler said. Junior Tyler Hoeflich batted .347 with a team-leading 26 RBIs last season. The right-hander was 2-2 with a 1.94 ERA.
3. Archbishop Curley
Coach: Brooks Norris
Last season: 19-12, No. 3
Postseason: MIAA A Conference runner-up
Outlook: A pair of left-handed pitchers -- junior Zack Ridgely (58 strikeouts in 58 innings in 2012) and senior J.D. Caulkins (4-4, 3.71 ERA) -- lead the Friars as they look to build on last year's success despite the graduation of several key contributors.
4. South River
Coach: Ken Dunn
Last season: 13-9, unranked
Postseason: Class 4A East regional quarterfinalist
Outlook: With 13 returning players, the Seahawks should challenge for a county championship. Senior Austin Wright (.310, 2.47 ERA) and junior Craig Sheridan (.286, 3.41 ERA) will contribute on the mound and at the plate, but can they put it together for a title?
Coach: Jason Lively
Last season: 19-6, No. 4
Postseason: Class 4A state runner-up
Outlook: After running through the tough Class 4A East region last season, the Wildcats lost to Northwest of Montgomery County, 7-6 in 12 innings, in the Class 4A title game. They'll reload and look to make the extra step this year.
Coach: Adam Leader
Last season: 22-2, No. 5
Postseason: Class 3A East regional finalist
Outlook: The Gators should be among the top teams in Howard County once again. Sophomore right-hander Cody Morris is the No. 1 starter after All-Metro first-team right-hander Lee Lawler graduated, and junior catcher Danny O'Hagan batted .330 last season.
7. River Hill
Coach: Wes McCoy
Last season: 16-5, unranked
Postseason: Class 3A East regional quarterfinalist
Outlook: With all of their pitchers returning this season, the Hawks will likely contend for the Howard County championship. Look for senior outfielder Shrawan Sinha to make an impact after hitting .309 with 13 RBIs last year.
Coach: Jim Crowley
Last season: 16-16, unranked
Postseason: MIAA A Conference semifinalist
Outlook: Senior utility player Conor Reynolds (.440, 6 triples, 31 runs, 16 stolen bases), an All-Metro second-team pick last year, leads the Dons at the plate, while senior left-hander Bruce Zimmerman (7-0 with a 3.10 ERA) anchors their rotation.
9. Severna Park
Coach: Eric Milton
Last season: 16-5, No. 13
Postseason: Class 4A East regional finalist
Outlook: In his first season, Milton said "expectations are pretty high" with 16 seniors on the team. Senior left-hander Ryan Callahan leads a deep pitching staff. Most coaches name the Falcons as one of the favorites for the Anne Arundel County title.
Coach: Larry Sheets
Last season: 25-9, No. 7
Postseason: MIAA A Conference quarterfinalist
Outlook: Junior Gavin Sheets, the coach's son, leads the Greyhounds, who lost 11 seniors from last year's squad. One local coach said Gilman has the hitters to compete, but pitching is their biggest question mark heading into the season.
Coach: Ryan Wolfsheimer
Last season: 15-6, unranked
Postseason: Class 4A North regional quarterfinalist
Outlook: With a squad full of seniors, the Lions are among the top teams in Baltimore County. Senior Bobby Donald batted .368 with 3 HRs and 21 RBIs last season, while junior Kurtis Ewers (.481, 16 RBIs, 3-3, 2.31 ERA) contributes offensively and on the mound.
Coach: Jim Miller
Last season: 14-5, No. 15
Postseason: Class 2A West regional quarterfinalist
Outlook: Miller, a first-year coach, said a lot of the Lions believe they have "work left to be done" after their season ended with a 5-4 loss to eventual Class 2A state champion Williamsport. Senior infielder Tim Anderson batted .364 with 2 HRs and 11 RBIs last year.
13. Bel Air
Coach: John Swanson
Last season: 9-12, unranked
Postseason: Class 3A North first round
Outlook: Several Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference coaches pick the Bobcats as the preseason favorite. Seniors Tyler Norcross and Sam Foss (.288, 1 HR, 9 RBIs) provide a veteran core.
Coach: Mark Winebrunner
Last season: 15-8, No. 14
Postseason: Class 4A North regional finalist
Outlook: Seniors Trevor Houck (5-1, 1.45 ERA) and Gene Barrett (3-2, 3.32 ERA) give the Owls, who will rely on several young players, a veteran one-two punch in the rotation.
15. Mount St. Joseph
Coach: Dave Norton
Last season: 12-15, unranked
Outlook: Senior Kirk Haynes (.308, 14 RBIs, 3-3, 3.47 ERA) and junior Peter Solomon (.323, 3 HRs, 14 RBIs, 4.88 ERA) look to help the Gaels rebound from a down season.
Others considered: C. Milton Wright (14-8, unranked), Franklin (13-9, unranked), Glenelg Country (12-9, unranked), Hammond (12-10, unranked), Hereford (14-6, unranked), Patterson Mill (19-5, No. 6), Severn (14-11, unranked), St. Mary's (18-6, unranked)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun