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Preseason baseball poll

Archbishop Spalding shortstop Kevin Heiss gets the force at second.
Archbishop Spalding shortstop Kevin Heiss gets the force at second. (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Brian Burden picks the top 15 baseball teams in the metro area.

1. Archbishop Spalding

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Coach: Joe Palumbo

Last season: 24-4

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Postseason: MIAA A Conference champion

Outlook: Preseason All-State picks Jordan Carr (UNC-Asheville) and Tyler Blohm (Maryland) lead a packed Cavaliers squad that is hungry to repeat. Kevin Heiss (Rhode Island), David Harding and Billy Godrick (Fordham) also return, as the Cavaliers have depth on the mound and in the field. Spalding won eight straight to close last season with its second MIAA A title in four seasons.

2. Reservoir

Coach: Adam Leader

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Last season: 22-3

Postseason: Class 3A state champion

Outlook: The Gators are stacked with 13 seniors, including a fully intact rotation that posted a combined 1.45 ERA. Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year and South Carolina commit Cody Morris leads the way for a team that outscored opponents 209-43 and won 11 straight to close the season. Jack Barry (Salisbury) and Joey Janush also return for Reservoir, which was the first Howard County school to win a state championship since Centennial in 2004.

3. Calvert Hall

Coach: Lou Eckerl

Last season: 23-7

Postseason: MIAA A Conference final

Outlook: As usual, the Cardinals lost professional-level talent (Troy Stokes, Manny Rodriguez, etc.), and as usual, they will replace it with returning stars (such as Nick Delp) and rising ones (such as sophomore Brandon Dorsey, who has committed to North Carolina). They have won seven of the past 10 A Conference titles, and are looking to make it three times in four years.

4. Archbishop Curley

Coach: Brooks Norris

Last season: 17-12

Postseason: MIAA A Conference semifinals

Outlook: Returning MIAA Triple Crown winner and Maryland commit Marty Costes teams with Jordan Menfee (Northern Kentucky) and AJ Korczynski (Salisbury) to lead the Friars. After finishing the regular season tied with Archbishop Spalding and Calvert Hall atop the conference standings at 12-4, Archbishop Curley is looking to take the next step.

5. St. Paul's

Coach: Patrick Walsh

Last season: 20-8

Postseason: MIAA A Conference quarterfinals

Outlook: Despite losing the core of its pitching staff, the Crusaders have six starters returning from a 20-win team. Spencer Horwitz and Jake Sebastian should be junior standouts. St. Paul's swept conference champ Archbishop Spalding in the regular season.

6. Arundel

Coach: Jason Lively

Last season: 18-3

Postseason: Class 4A East quarterfinals

Outlook: The Anne Arundel County regular-season champions are looking to win their first state title since 2006. Andrew Cassard, Brad Hagemann, Will O'Hara, AJ Robinson and Pallotti transfer Rob Colvin lead the way.

7. St. Mary's

Coach: John Poss

Last season: 27-1

Postseason: MIAA B Conference champion

Outlook: The Saints won 26 straight to close the season and won their first title since 2007. They begin their last season in the B Conference with high expectations. Ryan Davis (Fordham) and Elliot Zoellner are a potent 1-2 punch on the mound, and junior catcher Brady O'Neil provides a talented target for them to throw to.

8. Southern

Coach: Frank Hood

Last season: 16-9

Postseason: Class 2A state champion

Outlook: The defending 2A champs are considered deeper and more athletic this season. Maryland commit Truman Thomas (.403 batting average) is a preseason All-State pick. Transfer Billy Albaugh was a two-time All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference selection at Northern-Calvert. Dillon Waters, Mitchell Johnson, Jon Artale and Chris Blair form a strong staff for the Bulldogs.

9. Mount Saint Joseph

Coach: Jody Harris

Last season: 13-14

Postseason: MIAA A Conference quarterfinals

Outlook: All-State picks Andre Brown and Clark Clatchey (Towson) will attempt to lead the Gaels back to the top perch of the A Conference. Mount Saint Joseph finished 8-8 in conference play and defeated St. Paul's in the playoffs.

10. Mount Hebron

Coach: Brian Culley

Last season: 14-9

Postseason: Class 3A East final

Outlook: A Vikings team that fell to eventual champ Reservoir in the playoffs is deep and talented and has All-State picks Mark Smith (Towson) and Jake Snyder to guide it. Sophomore outfielder Jack Schroeder (.380, 20 RBIs) might have the highest ceiling of them all.

11. South Carroll

Coach: Brian Zawacki

Last season: 13-4

Postseason: Class 2A West quarterfinals

Outlook: The defending Carroll County champions have one of the best keystones around in juniors Brad Haas (.500) and Calvert Hall transfer Joe Malagari. The Cavaliers expect to contend much deeper into the postseason.

12. North Harford

Coach: Tim Larrimore

Last season: 22-3

Postseason: Class 3A state final

Outlook: Despite losing top players such as Brian Shaffer (Maryland), the Hawks have a legitimate shot to go back to the state final for the third time in four years. Luke Johnson is one of the best catchers in the state while Sean Bowling returns from a broken leg after hitting .354 with eight doubles as a sophomore. Scott Angstadt (.324, 17 RBIs) combines with Bowling and Jake Knox on the mound.

13. Chesapeake-AA

Coach: Ken King

Last season: 23-2

Postseason: Class 4A state champion

Outlook: The Cougars lost Chris Ruszin and Drew Spinnenweber, who combined to go 17-1, among a cadre of talented seniors. Logan Ridgeway and a cast of new players will play to the same high expectations.

14. Dulaney

Coach: Ryan Wolfsheimer

Last season: 14-8

Postseason: Class 4A North semifinals

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Outlook: Jake Sousa (Frostburg State, .500, 21 RBIs) leads a young Lions squad looking to move up.

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15. Severna Park

Coach: Eric Milton

Last season: 12-10

Postseason: Class 4A East semifinals

Outlook: Seniors Griffin Wild (Lynchburg) and Ryan Yesner lead a Falcons team attempting to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2011. A bevy of younger arms, led by sophomore Matt Glady, provide depth and might even challenge the upperclassmen as the season progresses.

Others considered: Atholton, C. Milton Wright, Fallston, Franklin, Havre de Grace, Marriotts Ridge, Northeast, Perry Hall, River Hill, South River, Sparrows Point, Westminster

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