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The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – 2023 Baseball Poll #6 (FINAL POLL)

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State champion North Marion, runner-up SJCD tie for first in final regional poll

GAINESVILLE — Two years ago at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, the North Marion (Citra) Colts were six outs away from their first state baseball title in program history.

However, the Colts allowed a six-run fifth inning and ended up dropping the 4A state championship game, 8-4, to North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek).

They carried that memory and experience into this 2023 season, and this time the Colts (27-5) finished the job.

North Marion beat Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville), Hernando (Brooksville), and Bishop Moore (Orlando) to advance back to Fort Myers.

The Colts slipped past Sunset (Miami), 5-4, in the Class 4A state semifinals, setting up a matchup with a suddenly red-hot Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) team.

They took care of business in the 4A title game, defeating the Crusaders, 5-0, for their first state title. That allowed the Colts, who were previously ranked eighth, to move into the top spot of the The Prep Zone Power Poll’s final rankings.

However, the Colts will share the No. 1 spot.

Despite picking up six of nine first-place votes in the all-classification regional rankings, the Colts tied 2A state runner-up St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park), which moved up one spot from No. 2.

For the second time in three years the Spartans (26-5) advanced to the state semifinals in Fort Myers, and for the second time in three years SJCD came up short in the state title game, falling 5-2 to Lakeland Christian.

Despite the loss, the Spartans received a first-place vote and tied North Marion in overall voting points with 170.

Providence (Jacksonville), which was previously the top-ranked team, finished 3rd.

The Stallions (25-5) advanced to the 3A state semifinals but were beaten in a heartbreaker in 10 innings by eventual state champion Calvary Christian (Clearwater). Providence also received a first-place vote.

One more state semifinal team, Columbia (Lake City), received the final first-place vote and finished at No. 4.

For the second year in a row the Tigers (24-6) advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals in Fort Myers, and for the second year in a row Columbia came up short, losing 5-2 to eventual 5A state champion American Heritage (Plantation) in the state semifinals.

It was another banner year for the Tigers, who had to rally with a big 7th-inning in the region semifinal against Lincoln (Tallahassee), before winning 7-1 at No. 6 Clay (Green Cove Springs) to advance back to Fort Myers.

Rounding out the top five is Montverde Academy. The Eagles (25-4) lost at two-time defending state champion and eventual 3A state runner-up North Broward Prep, 4-1, in the Region 3 final.

Montverde stays put from the previous poll to finish in the top five.

Clay finished 6th. The Blue Devils (23-7) were knocked out the Region 1-5A final by Columbia.

Buchholz (Gainesville) ended up No. 7. The Bobcats (21-7) moved up four spots from the previous rankings despite a tough 10-8 loss to Winter Springs in the Region 1-6A final.

Class 1A state runner-up Lafayette (Mayo) also moved into the top 10, finishing 8th.

The Hornets (22-5) defeated Wakulla Christian School (Crawfordville), No. 19T Union County (Lake Butler), and Holmes County (Bonifay) to advance to the state championship game against Chipley, falling 10-1 in the title game.

Spruce Creek (Port Orange) jumped from unranked in the previous poll all the way to 9th in the final rankings.

The Hawks (20-11) won at No. 17 Sandalwood (Jacksonville), Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs), and Winter Park to advance to a 7A state semifinals. However, Spruce Creek drew the top-ranked team in the nation, Stoneman Douglas (Parkland), which knocked off the Hawks, 5-1, en route to the state title and a 29-0 record.

Another team unranked previously that makes a big jump into the top 10 is Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville).

The Crusaders were 3-6 at one point and finished the regular season 12-10. However, BK turned it on at the right time, rolling through the District 3-4A tournament.

They edged Santa Fe (Alachua), 1-0, at home in the opening round, before pulling off the upset 3-1 at top-seed South Walton (Santa Rosa Beach). After pulling another surprise with a 3-2 win at No. 13 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) in the Region 1 final, Bishop Kenny defeated Jefferson (Tampa), 4-1, in the 4A state semifinals before being downed 5-0 by North Marion in the state title game.

The Crusaders (19-11) had allowed only four runs in four state playoff games before the loss in the championship game.

Oakleaf (Orange Park), Fleming Island (Orange Park), Ridgeview (Orange Park), Creekside (St. Johns), and Santa Fe dropped out from the previous poll.

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball & baseball 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 bi-weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2023 BASEBALL POLL #6 (FINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, final 2023 record, and total voting points)
1T. North Marion (Citra) (4A) (6) (27-5) – 170
1T. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (1) (26-5) – 170
3. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (1) (25-5) – 166
4. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (1) (24-6) – 156
5. Montverde Academy (3A) (25-4) – 136
6. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (23-7) – 121
7. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (21-7) – 111
8. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (22-5) – 103
9. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (20-11) – 98
10. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (19-11) – 95
11. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (22-5) – 88
12. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (6A) (21-6) – 75
13. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (22-7) – 72
14T. Fernandina Beach (3A) (21-5) – 53
14T. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (23-5) – 53
16. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (21-9) – 47
17. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (18-6) – 37
18. Newberry (1A) (16-9) – 32
19T. Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (18-9) – 31
19T. Wolfson (Jacksonville) (3A) (21-6) – 31
Also receiving votes: Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (20-7) – 23; Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (16-9) – 17; Bolles (Jacksonville) (3A) (15-13) – 8; Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (18-9) – 7; Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (17-5) – 7; Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (18-6) – 2; Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (18-10) – 1.

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