The No. 1 ranking in the Prep Zone Baseball Power Poll has already been passed from St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) to Columbia (Lake City) in 2023.
Now a third team has emerged, even though the Providence (Jacksonville) Stallions are no stranger to state titles, final four appearances and No. 1 rankings.
Providence (19-4), who is ranked No. 2 in 3A and No. 7 overall by MaxPreps moves up four spots to the top ranking in the Prep Zone Poll for the first time this season. The Stallions have won six games in a row and have picked up wins in the last two weeks over No. 2 St. Johns Country Day, No. 6T Clay (Green Cove Springs), and 11th-ranked Buchholz (Gainesville).
Providence also owns wins over No. 8 North Marion (Citra), No. 15 Fleming Island (Orange Park), and 18th-ranked Wolfson (Jacksonville) and snatched up five of the 10 first-place votes to claim the top spot in split voting.
St. Johns Country Day remains at No. 2. The Spartans (18-4) picked up two first-place votes as they picked up wins against No. 3 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville), RV Mandarin (Jacksonville) and Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville), and lost 7-6 to Providence. St. Johns Country Day is ranked No. 1 in 2A and No. 16 overall statewide by MaxPreps.
Trinity Christian remains at No. 3. The Conquerors (19-4), ranked No. 5 in 3A and 15th overall by MaxPreps, lost 6-1 to St. Johns Country Day but also defeated No. 12 Oakleaf (Orange Park), RV Bolles (Jacksonville) and Bartram Trail (St. Johns).
Columbia drops from first to fourth. It’s not that the Tigers (19-4) fared that poorly, they were just surrounded by teams with wins over ranked teams. Columbia defeated No. 20T Union County (Lake Butler) and 2A No. 8 North Florida Christian (Tallahassee), but dropped games at unranked Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) and Chiles (Tallahassee). The Tigers still receive two first-place votes.
A newcomer to the poll rounds out the top five in Montverde Academy. The Eagles (18-3) have been an independent in baseball for many years, but this season are in 3A and are ranked No. 3 in the classification and No. 8 overall by MaxPreps.
Montverde Academy is also ranked No. 22 nationally and received the final first-place vote this week. The Eagles has wins over RV The Villages, Osceola (Kissimmee), West Orange (Winter Garden), Lake Nona (Orlando), Farragut (TN), Loganville (GA) and Hoover (AL).
Clay (Green Cove Springs) and Fernandina Beach are tied for sixth place.
Fernandina Beach (19-3) move up four more spots as their winning streak has extended to 17 games in a row.
Clay stays put after defeating Ridgeview, No. 19 Creekside (St. Johns) and No. 20T Santa Fe (Alachua). Their only loss came to Providence.
North Marion remains at No. 8. The Colts (19-4), ranked No. 2 in 4A and 18th overall by MaxPreps, continued to roll through the second half of the season as they defeated Dunnellon, Trinity Catholic (Ocala), and Santa Fe for the second time this year apiece.
Sandalwood (Jacksonville) is at No. 9. The Saints (17-4) won the Gateway Conference Tournament title by beating Wolfson 12-1 in the final. Sandalwood defeated Englewood (Jacksonville) and Fletcher (Neptune Beach) on their way to the championship game.
Rounding out the top 10 is Lake Minneola (Minneola). The Hawks (18-4) drop six spots from the previous poll but edged Buchholz by a point to stay in the top 10.
Among the Mainstreet Daily News area teams in the second 10 are Buchholz, who remains at No. 11. The Bobcats (16-6) defeated Gainesville twice, Fleming Island and The Villages, with their only loss the last two weeks coming at Providence.
Union County and Santa Fe are tied for 20th. The Tigers (15-6), ranked No. 2 in 1A by MaxPreps, beat First Coast (Jacksonville) and University Christian (Jacksonville) twice, with their only loss recently coming at Columbia.
Santa Fe drops four spots from the previous rankings but does stay in the poll. The Raiders (16-8) beat Vanguard (Ocala) and P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) twice but lost three games. All three losses were to ranked teams in Clay, North Marion and Creekside.
Union County is the only new team in the poll this week. They replace Mandarin, who was ranked 20th previously.
Oak Hall and Keystone Heights are receiving votes this week.
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 bi-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 #5
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, record through 4/24, and total voting points)
Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.
1. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (5) (19-4) – 191
2. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (2) (18-4) – 184
3. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-4) – 174
4. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (2) (19-4) – 172
5. Montverde Academy (3A) (1) (18-3) – 151
6T. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (18-5) – 137
6T. Fernandina Beach (3A) (19-3) – 137
8. North Marion (Citra) (4A) (19-4) – 135
9. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (17-4) – 124
10. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (6A) (18-4) – 111
11. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (16-6) – 110
12. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (17-5) – 90
13. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (18-4) – 68
14. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (16-3) – 55
15. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (15-6) – 54
16. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (16-6) – 44
17. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (17-6) – 41
18. Wolfson (Jacksonville) (3A) (18-4) – 40
19. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (16-6) – 33
20T. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (16-8) – 13
20T. Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (15-6) – 13
Also receiving votes: Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (15-8) – 11; Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (14-4) – 5; Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (13-8) – 4; Madison County (1A) (13-7) – 3; Bolles (Jacksonville) (3A) (12-11) – 1; Keystone Heights (3A) (14-7) – 1;The Villages (4A) (11-12) – 1.