We have hit the halfway point of the high school baseball regular season and the team that finished last year on top of the Prep Zone Power Poll is back on top.
Red-hot Columbia (Lake City) moves up from No. 2 in the previous poll to the top spot this week. The Tigers (12-2) have won 12 of 13 games since an opening game 5-4 loss to Bartram Trail (St. Johns). Columbia's only loss in that span was 3-0 defeat at Valdosta (GA), and they avenged that setback with a 5-0 blanking of Valdosta in Lake City on March 16.
The Tigers also picked up wins over then-RV Forest (Ocala), 12-6, and No. 20T Santa Fe (Alachua), 6-2, since the last poll was released. Columbia, ranked No. 8 in 5A and 49th overall statewide by MaxPreps, receives six of 10 first-place votes and passes St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) for the top spot.
St. Johns Country Day drops to No. 2. The Spartans (10-3) were No. 1 in the two previous polls but drop a spot despite their only loss in the past month coming 3-2 in 10 innings at No. 6 Oakleaf (Orange Park). St. Johns Country Day, ranked No. 3 in 2A and No. 36 overall statewide, does receive two first-place votes.
Clay (Green Cove Springs) remains at No. 3. The Blue Devils (11-2) beat Oakleaf, 6-2, but lost 4-2 at now-unranked Bartram Trail. Clay is also ranked sixth in 5A and No. 24 statewide by MaxPreps.
Providence (Jacksonville) moves up a spot to No. 4. The Stallions (12-2) have won four of five and seven of their past eight games with the only loss in that span coming to No. 7 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville). Providence, who also picked up a first-place vote, is No. 2 in 3A and seventh overall statewide according to MaxPreps.
Lake Minneola (Minneola) rounds out the top five. The Hawks (10-1) have won seven in a row with their only loss coming in nine innings to RV The Villages in the opening week of the season. Lake Minneola receives the final first-place vote.
Oakleaf continues their run up the rankings, moving up four more spots to No. 6. The Knights (11-1) suffered their first setback of the 2023 season to Clay, but defeated Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine, and second-ranked St. Johns Country Day. Oakleaf is ranked No. 8 in 6A and No. 30 overall statewide by MaxPreps.
Trinity Christian drops three spots but settles in at No. 7. The Conquerors (8-3) only played three games over the past two weeks and lost 6-3 to Reborn Christian Academy (Kissimmee).
Rounding out the top 10 are No. 8 Buchholz (Gainesville), ninth-ranked Sandalwood (Jacksonville), and 10th-ranked Trinity Catholic (Ocala).
Buchholz, ranked No. 4 in 6A and No. 19 statewide by MaxPreps, defeated No. 15 North Marion (Citra) and then-RV Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), with their only loss coming 3-2 at No. 12 Fleming Island (Orange Park). The Bobcats (9-2) move up a spot this week.
Sandalwood drops two slots despite going 5-1 since the last poll and beating Fleming Island and No. 16 Ridgeview (Orange Park) with their only loss coming to red-hot Creekside (St. Johns).
Trinity Catholic defeated teams from Tennessee and Colorado as well as beating First Coast (Jacksonville) and East Ridge. The Celtics (12-3) did drop games at Forest (Ocala) and at No. 19 Fernandina Beach.
Fleming Island and Creekside are the big movers this week. The Golden Eagles (10-2), unranked previously, move all the way up to 12th. The same can be said for Creekside (13-1), who was also unranked in the last poll but is now in at No. 13.
Creekside's only loss of the season to this point was the second game of the season to a team from Georgia.
As mentioned earlier, Fernandina Beach is the other team new to the poll this week.
The Pirates (10-3), regional finalists in 3A last season, have won eight in a row and picked up wins against Trinity Catholic and No. 20T Baker County (Glen St. Mary) as well as Lincoln (Tallahassee) and Fletcher (Neptune Beach). Their only losses so far in 2023 are to RV Wolfson (Jacksonville), Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), and Ridgeview.
Bartram Trail and The Villages drop out from the most recent poll.
As for teams in the Mainstreet Daily News area, Union County (Lake Butler) drops a spot but stays in the poll at No. 18, while Santa Fe (Alachua) is down nine slots but just stays in the poll as the Raiders (7-4) are tied for 20th with Baker County.
Trenton, Oak Hall (Gainesville), and Keystone Heights received votes.
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 POWERED BY ANYTIME FITNESS OF GAINESVILLE – 2023 BASEBALL POLL #3
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, current record through 3/26, and total voting points)
Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.
1. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (6) (12-2) - 194
2. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (2) (10-3) - 179
3. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (11-2) - 174
4. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (1) (12-2) - 157
5. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (6A) (1) (10-1) - 154
6. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (11-1) - 139
7. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (8-3) - 136
8. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (9-2) - 130
9. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (10-3) - 114
10. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (12-3) - 104
11. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (9-1) - 103
12. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (10-2) - 85
13. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (13-1) - 79
14. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (8-3) - 51
15. North Marion (Citra) (4A) (8-4) - 50
16. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (10-4) - 46
17. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (9-3) - 36
18. Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (8-3) - 31
19. Fernandina Beach (3A) (10-3) - 28
20T. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (8-4) - 26
20T. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (7-4) – 26
Also receiving votes: Trenton (1A) (11-2) - 22; Keystone Heights (3A) (8-2) - 17; DeLand (7A) (7-4) - 7; Wolfson (Jacksonville) (8-3) - 5; Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (8-2) - 4; The Villages (4A) (6-7) - 4.