GAINESVILLE – Following their second consecutive state baseball title, the Williston Red Devils ended the season with a 20-game winning streak and finished on top of the Prep Zone Power Poll.
In fact, they also became the first team in FHSAA Baseball Finals history to pitch shutouts in both the state semifinals and championship game two years in a row.
Williston defeated Hamilton County (Jasper), 1-0, in the Class 1A state semifinals, followed by a 3-0 win against Blountstown in the state championship game to finish on top.
The Red Devils (28-2), who received five of the seven first-place votes, also went 9-0 against Class 5A & 6A competition this season and swept defending 4A state champion Trinity Catholic (Ocala).
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville), which won a state football title in December, won its first state baseball title in school history, knocking off previous No 8 South Sumter (Bushnell) in the state semifinals, followed by a win over 4A #2 Bishop Verot (Ft. Myers) in the state championship game. The Conquerors (24-8) received the other first-place votes and moved up three spots to finish second.
Bartram Trail (St. Johns), which defeated Forest (Ocala), 2-1 (11 innings), in the 6A state semifinals, lost to Venice, 4-0, in the state championship game to finish as 6A state runners-up. The Bears (23-7) finished one spot ahead of the Wildcats (23-8), who moved up three spots to finish fourth.
Rounding out the top five is South Sumter. The Raiders (20-7) advanced to their first state semifinal since 1978 with playoff wins against No. 17 Keystone Heights and at 4A #8 Bishop Moore (Orlando).
Creekside (St. Johns), which lost to eventual 6A state runner-up Bartram Trail, 3-1 (9 innings), in the regional semifinals, is ranked sixth. The Knights (24-5) defeated the Bears three times during the season, including the district championship game, but lost in extra innings in the playoffs.
Buchholz (Gainesville), which lost to eventual state champion Oviedo in the second round of the 7A state playoffs, finished seventh. The Bobcats (20-8) are followed by Jacksonville private schools Providence (19-10), University Christian (18-9) and Bolles (19-10) at eighth through 10th, respectively.
University (Orange City) had the biggest jump in the rankings as the Titans went from unranked at 12-12 heading into the district tournament as the eighth seed, to No. 11 in the final rankings following a spot in the Class 8A state title game.
The Titans (18-14) rode the magical arm of sophomore Logan Allen all the way to 8A state runners-up. Allen posted three regional wins, including victories against state-ranked Hagerty and nationally-ranked Oviedo. University knocked off Timber Creek (Orlando) in the state semifinals before the ride ended with a 10-1 loss to Columbus (Miami) in the state title game.
Area teams Citrus (Inverness), Seven Rivers Christian and Hamilton County (Jasper) were state semifinalists in 5A, 2A & 1A, respectively. Citrus (17-10), which also was unranked, and Hamilton County (17-12) finished 13th and 16th, while Seven Rivers Christian (13-12) is receiving votes.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters.
PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2015 BASEBALL POLL #8 (FINAL RANKINGS)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record and total voting points)
1. Williston (1A) (5) (28-2) – 138
2. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (4A) (2) (24-8) – 135
3. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) (23-7) – 125
4. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (23-8) – 111
5. South Sumter (Bushnell) (4A) (20-7) – 108
6. Creekside (St. Johns) (6A) (24-5) – 105
7. Buchholz (Gainesville) (7A) (20-8) – 98
8. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-10) – 84
9. University Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (18-9) – 70
10. Bolles (Jacksonville) (4A) (19-10) – 64
11. University (Orange City) (8A) (18-14) – 62
12. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (7A) (17-10) – 56
13. Citrus (Inverness) (5A) (17-10) – 52
14. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (22-5) – 34
15. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (17-12) – 31
16. Hamilton County (Jasper) (1A) (17-12) – 30
17. Keystone Heights (4A) (20-9) – 29
18. St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) (3A) (16-5) – 24
19. Trinity Christian (Deltona) (2A) (20-9) – 20
20. Eustis (5A) (18-8) – 19
Also receiving votes: Deltona (6A) (19-11) – 15; Chiefland (1A) (17-7) – 15; Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto) (2A) (13-12) – 14; Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (16-11) – 9; Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (14-12) – 6; North Marion (Citra) (5A) (17-12) – 4; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (8A) (17-7) – 4; Suwannee (Live Oak) (5A) (17-8) – 3; Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) (7A) (19-7) – 2; Westside (Jacksonville) (6A) (18-7) – 2; Flagler Palm Coast (8A) (16-11) – 1.