The 2023 high school baseball season is underway for the teams in the Prep Zone Power Poll.
And at the top are two teams who finished the last two seasons at the top of the rankings after long playoff runs.
St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park), who was the 2A state runner-up two years ago and finished on top of the final 2021 Power Poll and was No. 2 in the final 2022 rankings, starts the 2023 season on top again. The Spartans, who lost in the Region 1-2A final to North Florida Christian (Tallahassee) last May, have started the season 3-0 with wins over Bolles (Jacksonville) and RV Episcopal (Jacksonville).
St. Johns Country Day received three of the nine first-place votes and edges No. 2 Columbia (Lake City) by four points for the top spot.
Speaking of Columbia, the Tigers are looking to repeat a 2022 season where they advanced to the 5A state semifinals for the first time in school history and finished on top of the final poll. Columbia also receives a first-place vote and has started this season 3-1 with wins over two Georgia teams and No. 18T Santa Fe (Alachua) with their only loss, 5-4, to No. 3 Bartram Trail (St. Johns).
Bartram Trail receives the most first-place votes with five but is just behind Columbia at No. 3. The Bears, who were eliminated in the Region 1-7A final last spring by Hagerty (Oviedo), are 3-0 in 2023 with wins over Columbia, RV First Coast (Jacksonville), and RV Fletcher (Neptune Beach), and are ranked No. 16 statewide in the latest Prep Baseball Report poll.
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) starts at No. 4. The Conquerors, who saw their season end at St. Johns Country Day in a region semifinal last season, are 2-0 to start with wins over Fletcher and a playoff team from 2022 in Stanton (Jacksonville). Trinity Christian is ranked No. 22 in the Prep Baseball Report rankings.
Rounding out the top five is Sandalwood (Jacksonville). The Saints, who lost in the opening round of the 7A playoffs at Hagerty, finished the final 2022 rankings tied for No. 7.
Clay (Green Cove Springs) leads off the second five, as the Blue Devils start the season 3-0 with wins over Episcopal, RV Baker County (Glen St. Mary), and Keystone Heights.
The Villages, who advanced to their first state semifinal appearance in school history in 2022, starts the new season at No. 7. The Buffalo moved up from 3A to 4A and start this season 2-1 with wins over Deltona and RV Eustis with the only loss 7-4 to No. 8 Lake Minneola (Minneola).
Lake Minneola lost to New Smyrna Beach in the Region 1-6A semifinal last May and finished in the honorable mention category. The Hawks start 2023 in the top 10 after wins against The Villages, RV Forest (Ocala), and Umatilla.
Rounding out the top 10 are two 3A teams, No. 9 Providence (Jacksonville) and No. 10 Trinity Catholic (Ocala).
The Stallions were only 15-13 in their first season under Tommy Boss and lost at home to The Villages 1-0 in a Region 1-3A semifinal. But Providence is 3-0 to start the new season and has beaten Wolfson (Jacksonville), RV Fleming Island (Orange Park), and St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine).
Trinity Catholic was upset by Fernandina Beach in the region semifinal round but starts 2023 in the top 10 with a 3-0 record.
Among teams in the Main Street Daily News area are 12th-ranked Suwannee (Live Oak), No. 18T Santa Fe (Alachua), and No. 20 Fort White.
Suwannee advanced to the 4A state semifinals for the second time in four years before being eliminated by eventual state champion Island Coast (Cape Coral) in Fort Myers last spring. The Bulldogs finished 2022 third in the final rankings and are 1-1 to start the new season.
Santa Fe won their second straight district title last season but were upset by Clay in 10 innings in an opening round thriller in the 4A playoffs.
Fort White advanced to their first state semifinal in school history before losing 4-1 to eventual 1A state champion Holmes County (Bonifay). The Indians finished No. 13 in last season’s final 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 POWERED BY ANYTIME FITNESS OF GAINESVILLE — 2023 BASEBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, final 2022 record, current 2023 record through 2/27, and total voting points)
Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.
1. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (3) (23-5) (3-0) – 169
2. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (1) (22-9) (3-1) – 165
3. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (5) (21-9) (3-0) – 162
4. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (20-9) (2-0) – 132
5. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (18-7) (1-0) – 122
6. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (18-11) (3-0) – 109
7. The Villages (4A) (20-8) (2-1) – 106
8. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (6A) (19-8) (3-0) – 104
9. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (15-13) (3-0) – 86
10. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (19-9) (3-0) – 76
11. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (17-4) (2-0) – 71
12. Suwannee (Live Oak) (4A) (24-5) (1-1) – 68
13. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (17-6) (3-0) – 62
14. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (20-9) (2-0) – 51
15. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (21-7) (1-1) – 47
16T. Bolles (Jacksonville) (3A) (10-13) (1-1) – 32
16T. DeLand (7A) (15-11) (2-1) – 32
18T. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (8-15) (4-0) – 31
18T. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (20-7) (1-1) – 31
20. Fort White (1A) (16-7) (1-1) – 26
Also receiving votes:
Newberry (1A) (14-8) (2-0) – 23; University (Orange City) (7A) (25-6) (0-2) – 20; Eustis (4A) (16-13) (2-1) – 19; Forest (Ocala) (6A) (18-6) (1-2) – 16; Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (17-9) (1-1) – 14; Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (16-10) (3-0) – 13; Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (13-10) (1-1) – 12; Flagler Palm Coast (7A) (10-16) (2-1) – 11; Fernandina Beach (3A) (16-10) (1-2) – 9; Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (14-4) (2-0) -9; First Coast (Jacksonville) (6A) (16-9) (2-1) – 8; Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (14-12) (2-1) – 7; North Marion (Citra) (4A) (12-13) (1-1) – 6; Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (16-5) (1-1) – 5; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (6A) (23-4) (0-2) – 5; Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (17-11-1) (2-0) – 5; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (13-13) (1-1) – 4; Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (9-14) (2-1) – 4; University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (22-7) (0-2) – 3.