These are some heady days for the St. John’s Country Day (Orange Park) baseball team.
In 2021, the Spartans went on a 13-game winning streak and advanced all the way to the 2A Final Four for the first time in program history, coming up a bit short in the state championship game in Fort Myers against Out-of-Door Academy (Sarasota).
This season Coach Tom Lucas’s Spartans are back and expected to challenge for the 2A state title again. Meanwhile, SJCD is back on top of the latest Prep Zone Baseball Power Poll.
St. John’s Country Day is off to a 4-1 start this season, with the four wins coming by a combined 38-5 over two Georgia teams, and two teams from Florida, Baldwin and Yulee. The Spartans’ only loss came by a run, 8-7 to the 7th-ranked team in Georgia’s largest classification, Buford.
The Spartans receive five of the six first-place votes to move into the No. 1 spot. St. John’s Country Day finished the 2021 season as the top-ranked team in the final regional rankings.
Moving up five spots to No. 2 is Clay (Green Cove Springs). The Blue Devils (5-1), who missed the state playoffs a year ago despite a 19-5 record, have started 2022 with wins at then-No. 1 Bolles (Jacksonville) and then-No. 9 Episcopal (Jacksonville), as well as victories over Keystone Heights and Milton (GA) with the only loss coming to Effingham County (GA).
Bartram Trail (St. Johns) is at No. 3 after a 3-2 start, with wins over Nease (Ponte Vedra) and Georgia schools Mill Creek and Brunswick. The Bears suffered setbacks to Forsyth Central (GA) and No. 12 Fletcher (Neptune Beach).
Santa Fe (Alachua) is fourth. The Raiders, who were upset in the first round of the 4A playoffs a year ago despite a 23-3 record, are also 4-1 to start 2022. Santa Fe has wins over RV (Received Votes) Dunnellon and Keystone Heights, with the only setback coming in their opening game to last year’s 4A state runner-up, No. 6 North Marion (Citra).
Bolles, who was the preseason No. 1 team, drops to fifth. The Bulldogs, 3A state semifinalists a year ago, have started 1-2 with losses to Clay and Fletcher and a win over No. 8 Mandarin (Jacksonville).
North Marion leads off the second five. The Colts, who just missed out on a state title last season, falling in the 4A state championship game, drop two spots from the opening poll after losing to Dunnellon and No. 10 Trinity Catholic (Ocala), with the victory over Santa Fe on the road.
Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) is No. 7. The Sharks, who advanced to their first 4A state semifinal last spring before being eliminated by North Marion, have started 2022 4-1 as well with the only loss coming to Springstead (Spring Hill) and two victories over Central (Brooksville).
Mandarin, also 4-1 with the only loss to Bolles, moves up four slots to the No. 8 spot.
Moving up four spots and into the top 10 at No. 9 is Hernando (Brooksville). The Leopards are 6-0 to start 2022.
Trinity Catholic rounds out the top 10. The Celtics are 4-0 to start with the big win over North Marion as well as victories against Belleview, Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) and South Sumter (Bushnell). Trinity Catholic moves up nine spots from the preseason poll.
Among the highlights of the second 10 is No. 12 Fletcher (Neptune Beach). The Senators (4-0) weren’t ranked in the preseason poll, but made the big move into the rankings and received the final first-place vote after wins against Bolles and Bartram Trail as well as RV Ponte Vedra in the first two weeks of the season.
DeLand (5-1) is also new to the poll at No. 14. The Bulldogs knocked off then-No. 6 Spruce Creek (Port Orange) as well as Viera and Flagler Palm Coast, only losing to Apopka so far.
Also moving in this week are No. 17 Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) and No. 18 University Christian (Jacksonville) along with Columbia (Lake City) and Oakleaf (Orange Park), who are tied for No. 20 this week with Creekside (St. Johns).
Providence (Jacksonville). Hamilton County (Jasper), Mount Dora Christian Academy, Suwannee (Live Oak) along with Episcopal all drop out from the preseason rankings.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls volleyball, 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 weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.
THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2022 BASEBALL POLL #2
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, record through 3/6, and total voting points)
1. St. John’s Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (5) (4-1) – 118
2. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (4A) (5-1) – 114
3. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (3-2) – 89
4. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (4-1) – 85
5. Bolles (Jacksonville) (3A) (1-2) – 84
6. North Marion (Citra) (4A) (2-2) – 70
7. Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (4A) (4-1) – 67
8. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (4-1) – 58
9. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (6-0) – 57
10. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (4-0) – 56
11. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (2-3) – 55
12. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (1) (4-0) – 54
13. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (3-2) – 52
14. DeLand (7A) (5-1) – 50
15. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (4-1) – 48
16. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (2-1) – 33
17. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (4-0) – 27
18. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (7-0) – 19
19. Newberry (1A) (2-2) – 18
20T. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (4-1) – 16
20T. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (3-3) – 16
20T. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (7A) (6-0) – 16
Also receiving votes: Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (2-3) – 11;The Villages (3A) (5-1) – 11; Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (2-1-1) – 10; Forest (Ocala) (6A) (4-1) – 8; Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (3-3) – 7; Dunnellon (4A) (4-2) – 3; Suwannee (Live Oak) (4A) (3-1) – 3.