State baseball rankings released

Posted 2/5/18

Cole Wilcox and Heritage-Catoosa will start the season No. 1 in Class 4A in

the Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine preseason rankings.

 

Defending champs Loganville, Jeff Davis, Savannah Christian start season on top

Only three programs who captured state baseball titles in 2017 will start the season on top as the Georgia Dugout Preview Magazine released its 2018 preseason high school baseball poll.

Loganville (5A), Jeff Davis (2A) and Savannah Christian (1A Private) will begin where they left off – No. 1 in their respective classifications.

Loganville won its third state title since 2008 last year with a 30-13 record. They return the majority of their team, including standout pitchers Joseph Brandon, Bay Witcher, Seth Clark and Bryant Pietri. Loganville is ranked ninth nationally in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll and No. 28 by Perfect Game.

The Red Devils are followed closely by Wayne County, the team the Red Devils defeated for the Class 5A title last year.

Locust Grove and Starr’s Mill, semifinalists in 5A last year, will begin the season at No. 5 and No. 8 respectively.

Two ranked teams to keep an eye on in 5A are Buford at No. 4 and Flowery Branch at No. 9. The two schools compete in Region 8-5A and feature new coaches – Buford will be led by Hall of Fame coach Stuart Chester who helped build Cartersville into a state power, while Flowery Branch is led by former Milton High coach Joey Ray, who guided the Eagles to a state title in 2013 in the state’s highest classification.

Jeff Davis took over the No. 1 ranking in Class 2A near the end of the regular season in 2017 and stayed on top as they captured the school’s first baseball title. The Jackets will begin where they left off because of a wealth of returning offensive standouts in Hunter Foster, Seth Graham, Alex Sanders, Garrett Baucom and Chandler Davenport.

Defending Region 3-2A champion Bleckley County will start the season at No. 2, while No. 3 Thomasville has 12 returning starters and is searching for its first state title since 1999.

The majority of teams ranked in Class 2A are below the mythical gnat line which runs from Columbus to Macon to Augusta. However, Rockmart is looking to make positive strides at No. 4 as well as Social Circle (No. 6), Callaway (No. 9) and Heard County (No. 10).

Savannah Christian is looking to defend its Class 1A Private School title as the Raiders return a wealth of talent from their first state championship team. But lurking closely behind at No. 2 is Tattnall Square, the team Savannah Christian had to beat for the title last season at Grayson Stadium in Stadium.

Tattnall has ended its season in the state semifinals or better since joining the Georgia High School Association during the 2014-15 season.
Holy Innocents’ will start the season at No. 3, while Region 6-1A rivals Mount Paran Christian and Kings Ridge Christian are No. 4 and No. 5 respectively.

In Class 1A Public, Charlton County welcomes back eight starters and begins the season at No. 1. The Indians have lost in the state semifinals the past two seasons after winning back-to-back titles in 2013 and ‘14

Gordon Lee, last season’s state runner-up, will start at No. 2, while defending state champion Schley County is No. 4.

Four teams who compete in Region 2-1A will begin the season ranked in the Top 10 – Charlton County (No. 1), Irwin County (No. 3), Telfair County (No. 6) and Clinch County (No. 10).

In Class 7A, Parkview and Walton occupy the No. 1 and No. 2 spots despite neither winning the state championship last year. Both return a stout left-handed pitcher -- Braden Hays (Parkview) and Luke Bartnicki (Walton). Both are nationally ranked by Perfect Game as well. Parkview is No. 2, while Walton is No. 23.

Defending state champion Etowah will begin the season at No. 9.

Gwinnett County has more teams ranked in 7A than any other county. In addition to Parkview, North Gwinnett (No. 3), Brookwood (No. 5) and Mill Creek (No. 6) are also ranked.

In 6A, River Ridge is preseason No. 1 for the first time in school history. The Knights finished strong in 2017 and return most of their lineup, including offensive standout Connor Pavolony and pitcher Chris Williams.

Defending state champion Pope and runner-up Lee County will start the season ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. After Lee County, the only other teams ranked south of Macon are in Region 3-6A – Glynn Academy (No. 9) and Richmond Hill (No. 10). Glynn Academy features a new coach in Trent Mongero, who led North Hall to the Class 3A state title last year.

In 4A, Heritage-Catoosa will start the season at No. 1. With a strong senior class led by All-American pitcher Cole Wilcox, infielder Jonathan Hickman and outfielder Lance Dockery, this could be the Generals’ year.

Longtime power Blessed Trinity, who has played in four consecutive state championship series, is No. 2. The Titans have finished as state runner-up the past two seasons after back-to-back titles in 2014 and ’15.

Region 5-4A has three teams, more than any other, in the Class 4A Top 10 – Troup (No. 3), Cartersville (No. 4) and LaGrange (No. 7). Defending state champion Marist will start the season at No. 6.

In 3A, Redan is No. 1 and leads a strong Region 5 who has four teams ranked in the Top 10 – Redan (No. 1), Lovett (No. 5), Pace Academy (No. 8) and Westminster (No. 9).

A pair of Region 6 schools – Ringgold and Calhoun – are No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, while defending state runner-up Pierce County is No. 4.

Defending state champion North Hall, after heavy graduation losses, will start the season just outside the Top 10. The Trojans, under the direction of former assistant Trevor Flow, still have ace pitcher Reese Olson leading their staff.

 Complete polls: http://www.georgiadugoutpreview.com/morefpinfo.php?rid=403&page=polls&catg=&titleid=