1. Archbishop Spalding
Coach: Joe Palumbo
Last season: 24-4, ranked No. 1
Postseason: Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association
A Conference champion
Outlook: The two-time defending A Conference champions are once again loaded, with four preseason all-state players, including left-handed ace Tyler Blohm (7-1, 2.75 ERA), a returning All-Metro first-team pick. Center fielder Billy Godrick (.413 batting average, 31 runs), catcher Carter Sears (.367, 27 RBIs) and shortstop David Harding (.316, 25 runs) also return to a lineup that produced nearly eight runs per game last season.
2. Calvert Hall
Coach: Lou Eckerl
Last season: 22-10, No. 2
Postseason: MIAA A Conference finalist
Outlook: Despite graduating their No. 1 pitcher and starting catcher and shortstop, the Cardinals should again be Spalding's top challenger. They return four strong right-handed pitchers in seniors Trevor Sprinkle (0-1, 4.20 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 20 innings as a closer) and Brad Weber (4-2, 3.12 ERA) and juniors Matt Hentshel (3-0, 0.29 ERA) and Ben Stewart (4-2, 1.47 ERA). Seven members of the starting lineup also are back, led by senior left fielder Ian Elliott (.341), senior first baseman Jeff Jones (.341) and sophomore right fielder J.P. Murphy (.385).
3. Severna Park
Coach: Eric Milton
Last season: 20-5, No. 4
Postseason: Class 4A state finalist
Outlook: Offensive firepower and pitching depth should keep the Falcons near the top of the rankings again this season. Ace Spencer Dietrich (6-2, 2.15 ERA) returns for his senior season and will have plenty of support from a lineup that features preseason all-state selection Kody Milton (.400, 16 RBIs as a freshman) and seniors Stephen Boushell (.350, four home runs, 18 RBIs) and Drew Anawalt (.338, 37 runs, 14 stolen bases). Former reliever Kyle Weiner, who didn't allow an earned run in 162/3 innings last season, steps into a larger role.
4. Mount Hebron
Coach: Brian Culley
Last season: 17-4, No. 5
Postseason: Class 3A state finalist
Outlook: The reigning Howard County champion returns 11 players from a team that advanced to the Class 3A state title game last season. Among them are junior Jack Schroeder, a preseason all-state pick and Virginia Commonwealth commit who batted .391 and went 3-0 on the mound. Senior pitcher-third baseman Jack Montgomery and junior infielder-outfielder Daniel Brouse also will play major roles.
5. St. Mary's
Coach: John Poss
Last season: 25-2, No. 3
Postseason: MIAA B Conference champion
Outlook: After winning back-to-back B Conference titles, the Saints jump to the A Conference. Poss' squad returns seven starters and all but one pitcher. Maryland signee Elliot Zoellner, a preseason all-state right-hander who has touched 93 mph on the radar gun, returns after missing last season with a forearm injury. Another all-state pick, sophomore right-hander Stephen Pelli, also can throw about 90 mph, and seniors Brady O'Neil (catcher) and Tre D'Amico (outfield) lead a potent lineup.
6. Chesapeake-Anne Arundel
Coach: Ken King
Last season: 16-7, No. 14
Postseason: Class 4A East semifinalist
Outlook: Expectations are high for the Cougars, who return No. 1 pitcher Dustin Gosnell (6-0, 2.00 ERA), fellow senior Ryan Richardson (2-1, 1.10 ERA) and several other up-and-coming arms. Senior Connor Fletcher (.325), junior Andrew Revels (.330) and sophomore Joe Seidler (.350) will provide pop in the lineup. A handful of new starters will come from a junior varsity that last season finished 19-0 and never trailed.
Coach: Larry Sheets
Last season: 17-9, No. 10
Postseason: MIAA A Conference quarterfinalist
Outlook: The Greyhounds should again be in the thick of the
A Conference race, with the return of all of their pitching and eight starters. Senior third baseman-pitcher John Fitzgerald batted .455 and had 39 RBIs a year ago, while a pair of sophomores, third baseman-pitcher Max Costes and catcher Alex Slodzinski, hit .390 and .387, respectively.
8. South Carroll
Coach: Brian Zawacki
Last season: 19-5, No. 9
Postseason: Class 2A state semifinalist
Outlook: The two-time defending county champions should again be the class of Carroll County after advancing to the state semifinals last season, where they took eventual state champion Southern to extra innings. Two-time county batting champion Brad Haas (.464, 21 RBIs) and senior left-handed ace Zach Kaye (5-1, 3.09 ERA) will lead the Cavaliers.
Coach: Frank Hood
Last season: 16-6, not ranked
Postseason: Class 4A East quarterfinalist
Outlook: Towson commit Andrew Cassard, a two-time all-county center fielder, leads a core group of returning starters who should keep the Wildcats in contention in Anne Arundel County. Rob Colvin, a second-team all-county infielder, and catcher Brady Ward, a Frostburg State commit, will anchor the lineup, and senior Matt Looser returns for his third year in the pitching rotation.
10. Mount Saint Joseph
Coach: Jody Harris
Last season: 18-11, No. 7
Postseason: MIAA A Conference semifinalist
Outlook: Despite graduating 12 seniors, the Gaels return pitchers Zac Stoll and Josh Pieniazek, who together accounted for 12 of their 18 wins a year ago. This team will be young but talented, welcoming 10 juniors and two sophomores from a JV that advanced to the A Conference title game last season. Add senior Nick Caporlette, who started most of last season at shortstop, and junior Ethan Gallagher, a Division I prospect who started every game at designated hitter, and Mount Saint Joseph should again be a contender.
Coach: Ryan Wolfsheimer
Last season: 18-4, No. 11
Postseason: Class 4A North semifinalist
Outlook: Solid pitching depth, a lineup full of high-average contact hitters and considerable experience should add up to another winning season for the Lions. Six starters return, led by senior pitcher Garrett Day (6-1, 2.42 ERA), junior center fielder Nicky Manzoni (.419, .536 on-base percentage) and junior catcher Drew Bossi (.450, 12 doubles).
12. Boys' Latin
Coach: Bill Greenwell
Last season: 22-4, No. 12
Postseason: MIAA B Conference finalist
Outlook: Their offense might not be quite as explosive as last season, but deep, dominant pitching will keep the Lakers in the hunt for a B Conference title. Senior Justin Ward went 10-0 with a 0.83 ERA to earn all-conference honors a year ago, and will get offensive support from five returning starters, including shortstop Mark Lopes (.377), first baseman Max Keefe (.338) and speedy outfielder Sam Bowen (.383).
Coach: Kyle Lynch
Last season: 16-8, No. 8
Postseason: Class 2A state champion
Outlook: Coming off back-to-back Class 2A state titles, the Bulldogs seem primed for a run at a three-peat. They feature a deep senior class led by outfielder-pitcher Dillon Waters (.294, 29 runs), pitcher Chris Blair (2.04 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 24 innings) and third baseman DJ Coleman (.333). Still, some younger players will need to step into larger roles after the graduation of nine players.
14. Perry Hall
Coach: Joe Carlineo
Last season: 13-7-1, No. 15
Postseason: Class 4A state semifinalist
Outlook: Coming off its first regional title in 12 years, Perry Hall seems to have the tools in place for a repeat performance. The Gators return three-year varsity player Josh Benzing, who led them in home runs and RBIs; power-hitting catcher Alec Proulx; and standout utility player Anthony Montoya. The addition of sophomores Rex Marshall and Noah Supensky and freshman Tyler Probst should bolster an already potent lineup.
Coach: Nick Hoffner
Last season: 15-6, not ranked
Postseason: Class 4A North quarterfinalist
Outlook: Seven seniors return for the Lions, including five pitchers who threw a combined 94 innings a year ago. Senior Casey Crawford earned first-team all-county honors by batting .372, with 10 doubles, and going 5-2 on the mound with a 2.70 ERA. Catcher Eric Greenbaum (.392, 20 RBIs), outfielder KJ Murray (.375) and outfielder-pitcher Reid Walsh (.355, 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA) also return, as does pitcher JR Faulkner, who missed most of last season after going 4-1 as a sophomore.
Others considered: Bel Air (8-7), Catonsville (9-8), C. Milton Wright (8-13), Eastern Tech (14-8), Marriotts Ridge (14-6),