1 Calvert Hall -- Bluechip left-hander Andy Bair, who verbally has committed to Miami and is the metro area's top pro prospect, returns with a strong nucleus to make coach Joe Binder's Cardinals the team to beat in the MIAA A Conference. Bair (11-0, 123 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings) was Player of the Year last season for the champion Cards (27-3), who are ranked No. 22 in USA Today.

2 McDonogh -- With senior pitchers Mike Ginsberg (10-2), Richie Levin (6-1) and Mike Stellar (6-2) returning, first-year coach Chet Janiga should carry on the winning tradition set by departed Al Poklemba. Janiga starts with those three and five other returning starters, including Dennis Badham (OF), Jason Taylor (C) and Guy Robertson (Inf).

3 Arundel -- The Wildcats (21-3) finished as 4A State runner-up to Perry Hall, but lost ace pitcher Brandon Agamennone. The return of several key position players, led by Casey Trout (SS) and Sean Fairbanks (C), coupled with a young but potentially good pitching staff again makes Arundel a playoff contender.

4 North County -- University of Maryland-bound right-hander Mike Wooden, a pro prospect, leads what should be the best team in the 4A Knights' five-year history. Wooden, who has two career no-hitters including a perfect game, is starting his fourth varsity season for coach Don Usewick.

5 Glenelg -- See capsule.

6 Perry Hall -- Coach Larry Butts is unusually optimistic about his defending 4A state champion Gators (19-3, No. 2 final poll), and that could mean big trouble for Baltimore County foes. Left-hander Brian Ash heads up seven returning starters from last year's third state champ since 1990 at Perry Hall.

7 Mount St. Joseph -- With five starters returning, including Eric Jeschke (1B, .342, 18 RBIs), Matt O'Donnell (OF, .318) and Dan Rosewag (2B, .264), coach Dave Norton says this edition "should be better," than last year's 17-11 Gaels (No. 7).

8 Old Mill -- Pitching is a question mark, but the Patriots (16-6, No. 4) have more speed than usual and should score a lot of runs with the likes of juniors Brian Bogle (SS), Joe Barnes (OF) and Chuck Manns (OF), whom coach Mel Montgomery calls "the heart and soul of our team."

9 Franklin -- Outstanding junior right-hander Mike Trott, who led Baltimore County in strikeouts (57) last year, makes the Indians (11-8) of coach Chick Vrany a bona fide contender in the 3A East Region. Senior Nick Heinz (1B, .400) provides offensive punch.

10 Loyola -- Ten seniors, six of them starters a year ago on a 7-12 team, have coach Dave McCann expecting to challenge rival Calvert Hall. Among the returnees are Dan Playkosh (1B, .450), Dennis Keruly (C, .372) and Rob Leaming (OF, .361). Jeremy Smith, a 6-3 right-hander, and Brian Weitzel, one of three left-handers, head up a seven-man Dons pitching staff.

11 Severna Park -- Scott Neuberger (.578, 20 RBIs and 32 runs scored), All-Metro outfielder as a junior, and Matt Griswold were two of the top hitters on the Oriolelanders' fall team and coach Jim Pitt hopes will lead his Falcons (12-7, No. 11) back to the 4A playoffs. Junior right-hander Scott Vane (6-2) will be the ace.

12 Lansdowne -- New coach Rich Griser inherits a 15-6 team (No. 9), led by junior Billy Walter, one of the top catchers and hitters in the metro area. Walter led the Vikings in hitting as a sophomore.

13 South Carroll -- Kile Maxcy (OF/LHP, .415, nine doubles), Jeremy Hancock (C, .394) and Ron White (OF, .390) are among eight key seniors back from last year's 15-7 (No. 13) Cavaliers. Bradley Collins takes over as coach for the retired Joe Foltz.

14 Glen Burnie -- Coach Bruce Sider's Gophers (9-11) intend to steal quite a few bases and score a lot of runs with hitters like Tony Hynson (1B, .381), Brad Emge (3B), Mike Ackerman (OF) and Desmond Dailey (OF).

15 Edgewood -- A deep pitching staff that coach Kevin Tyree is calling "his best in four years" has the Rams (13-6) optimistic in Harford County and in the 2A North Region. Tim Hamulack (2.58 ERA) and Rob Mister (2.13 ERA) are the top two pitchers and join John Cephalis (C) and Alex Garcia (2B) as four-year varsity players on this veteran club.

16 Howard -- See capsule.

17 North Carroll -- Boasting a pro prospect in left-hander Mike Huller, the Panthers should show vast improvement from last year's 5-12 season for coach Denny Snyder. Matt Martingdale and Barrett Gugliotta are expected to complement Huller on the mound.

18 Patterson -- Coming off a 15-6 season (No. 19), the 4A North Clippers of coach Roger Wrenn return a pair of superb senior athletes in pro prospect Willie McGirt (OF) and Mike Burrows (C).

19 Bel Air -- The Bobcats (11-6, No. 18) should have as good a hitting club as there is in Harford County and the Class 3A North Region. Bill Greenwell (2B/RHP, .617, 16 RBIs), Chad Sommers (C, .394) and Mike Deal (SS, .370) lead six returnees.

20 Overlea -- The Falcons are coming off a 17-3 season with Frank Merson (6-2, two no-hitters) back on the mound and catcher Brandon Van Hoose (.390) back for his third varsity season.

How the poll is chosen: The 1995 baseball poll is selected each week by the local sports staff through game observations and consultation with coaches.

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