Features, polls and athletes to watch in boys and girls lacrosse, baseball, softball and track and field
•Last season: 27-7, ranked No. 1
•The Cardinals will compete for a record fifth straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association AConference title, led by shortstop Patrick Blair and pitchers Mike Trionfo and Blake Geiger.
2. C. Milton Wright
•Last season: 19-5, No. 3
•Coach Tony Blackburn returns to the state runner-up after a year away to spend time with his family. Look for the Mustangs to have a strong defense and above-average pitching.
3. North County
•Last season: 14-7, not ranked
•The Knights return eight starters, including senior shortstop Nick Benges, and strong, veteran pitching.
•Last season: 17-7, No. 5
•Led by Jordan Lozzi (5-1, 1.46ERA) and Taylor Nelson (3-0, 3.71ERA), the Cougars have speed and depth.
5. Arch. Spalding
•Last season: 28-8, No. 2
•The Cavaliers graduated 14players, but four starters are back, including seniors Eddie Palmer (catcher) and Matt Jackson (left-handed pitcher).
6. South River
•Last season: 16-8, No. 4
•Eric Aumann is the key to the team's pitching. His catcher, senior Bobby Hite, sets the table for the offense.
7. Arch. Curley
•Last season: 21-8, No. 5
•Shortstop-pitcher Sean Doyle and outfielder-pitcher Brandon Franke provide defense and pitching.
8. Severna Park
•Last season: 14-6, No. 9
•Seven players return, including junior catcher Alex Ramsey (.407 batting average) and shortstop Kyle Convissar (.344). Senior Dylan Taylor (1.86 ERA) returns, but pitching depth is a question.
•Last season: 18-5, No. 7
•Senior first baseman Tyler Drinkard, a preseason All-State pick by the state coaches association, returns to anchor another strong Northeast attack.
•Last season: 14-8, No. 10
•The Wildcats might struggle early, with seniors Brandon Gill (shoulder), Mitch Reece (biceps) and Tyrell Dixon (foot/arm) slowed by injuries, but they figure to be ready at playoff time.
11. Card. Gibbons
•Last season: 19-13, not ranked
•The Crusaders, who made a habit of upsetting top teams a year ago, have everyone back, including seniors Robbie Harris (shortstop-pitcher), Andrew Parker (catcher) and Blake Thompson (center fielder).
•Last season: 19-3, No. 11
•Returning pitchers Eric Ryan (0.66 ERA), Andrew Huber and Manny Prassinas have lost one game combined in two years.
13. Digital Harbor
•Last season: 15-3, not ranked
•The regional finalist has two strong pitchers in Stephen Kovalesky (0.93 ERA) and Nathan Pitts (one no-hitter).
14. Old Mill
•Last season: 14-6, No. 13
•Catcher Justin Cohen and shortstop Kevin Kean, .400 hitters last season, lead a strong offense. Pitching is a concern.
•Last season: 10-11, not ranked
•The Golden Bears appear to be loaded and could be much improved. Hammond is led by pitcher Travis Clark, first baseman Tyler Clark and slugger Jared Christensen at shortstop.
OTHERS CONSIDERED: Boys' Latin (20-5, No. 14), Centennial (20-5, not ranked), Chesapeake-AA (14-7, not ranked), Loyola (21-11, not ranked), Marriotts Ridge (18-6, No. 15), Mount St. Joseph (14-14, not ranked), North Harford (15-6, No. 8), Loch Raven (15-6, not ranked), Kenwood (14-4, not ranked) and North Carroll (12-9, not ranked)