Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) won its first state baseball title in Fort Myers last spring, knocking off Bishop Verot (Fort Myers) to win the 4A state championship.
Trinity Christian is off to a 4-0 start in 2016, with wins at 9A West Orange (Winter Garden), 5A Bishop Moore (Orlando), and 7A Columbia (Lake City), and a home win over Fleming Island (Orange Park). That start has earned the Conquerors six of the seven first place votes in the preseason poll.
The other first place vote belongs to Creekside (St. Johns), who is right behind Trinity Christian in the opening poll. The Knights, who were knocked out by eventual 6A state runner-up Bartram Trail (St. Johns) in the regional semifinals last season, have moved up to 7A and have also opened up 4-0.
Following Creekside is Buchholz (Gainesville) at #3. The Bobcats, who finished 20-9 and lost to eventual 7A state champion Oviedo in the regional semifinals in 2015, have also moved up a class to 8A and are also 4-0 on the young season with wins over Columbia, The Villages, and an 11-0 romp over city rival Gainesville.
Bartram Trail, who lost to Venice in last year’s 6A state title game, comes in at #4. The Bears are 4-1 early in their schedule with the only loss 5-4 to Providence (Jacksonville), who is ranked 5th.
The Stallions, who were eliminated by eventual 3A state champion North Florida Christian (Tallahassee) in the regional finals in 2015, have started 6-0 highlighted by the win over Bartram Trail, and also victories over 7A Columbia and 4A Tampa Catholic, who was a regional finalist last season.
North Marion (Citra) leads off the second five. The Colts, who have never advanced past the regional finals, are off to a 4-0 start which includes a win over Marion County rival and #7 team in the preseason poll, Forest (Ocala).
The Wildcats (3-1) advanced to their first state semifinal since 1983 a year ago, losing a tough one to Bartram Trail 2-1 in 11 innings.
Bolles (Jacksonville) is 8th after a 4-1 start with wins over Ponte Vedra and Tampa Catholic and their only loss coming at Camden County (GA).
Rounding out the top 10 is Clay (Green Cove Springs) at #9 and University (Orange City) in 10th. After a .500 regular season in 2015, University rode the arm of Logan Allen all the way to the 8A state championship game, before losing to Columbus (Miami). The Titans have moved up to 9A this season.
Highlighting the second 10 is two-time defending 1A state champion Williston at #18. The Red Devils, led by senior starting pitcher and Florida signee Austin Langworthy, dropped their first three games to Gainesville, Chiefland, and Newberry before rallying for wins against Union County (Lake Butler) and Baldwin.
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 – 2016 BASEBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON RANKINGS)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, current record through 2/21 and total voting points)
1. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (4A) (6) (4-0) – 137
2. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (1) (4-0) – 129
3. Buchholz (Gainesville) (8A) (4-0) – 122
4. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (4-1) – 121
5. Providence (Jacksonville) (4A) (6-0) – 109
6. North Marion (Citra) (6A) (4-0) – 98
7. Forest (Ocala) (8A) (3-1) – 91
8. Bolles (Jacksonville) (5A) (4-1) – 78
9. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (6A) (4-1) – 77
10. University (Orange City) (9A) (2-0) – 58
11. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (9A) (3-0) – 53
T-12 Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (3-1) – 48
T-12 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (5A) (3-2) – 48
14. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (8A) (4-1) – 46
15. Parker (Jacksonville) (6A) (5-0) – 43
16. Deltona (7A) (2-1) – 37
17. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (9A) (4-1) – 35
18. Williston (1A) (2-3) – 30
19. South Sumter (Bushnell) (5A) (4-1) – 29
20. East Ridge (Clermont) (8A) (6-0) – 16
Also receiving votes: Gainesville (7A) (4-2) – 15; Central (Brooksville) (5A) (4-1) – 9; Chiefland (1A) (3-1) – 8; Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto) (2A) (3-0) – 7; Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (3-1) – 6; Taylor (Pierson) (1A) (4-0) – 5; Paxon (Jacksonville) (6A) (4-0) – 4; Newberry (1A) (3-1) -2; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (9A) (3-1) – 2; Trinity Christian (Deltona) (2A) (3-2) – 2; Yulee (5A) (6-0) -2; Palatka (5A) (2-1) – 1; Trenton (1A) (1-1) – 1.