The Columbia (Lake City) Tigers continue to roll through the regular season as they hope to make their second straight trip to the FHSAA Baseball State Finals in May in Fort Myers.
For now, though, Columbia is nearly a unanimous No. 1 team in the latest Prep Zone Power Poll.
The Tigers (16-2) have won nine games in a row since losing at Valdosta (GA), 3-0, on March 9. Columbia won four games over the past two weeks, including two wins over No. 11 Buchholz (Gainesville) and a victory on the road at 2A No. 8 North Florida Christian (Tallahassee).
The Tigers, ranked No. 3 in 5A and 10th overall statewide regardless of classification of MaxPreps, receive nine of 10 first-place votes this week to extend their lead over second-ranked St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park).
The Spartans (14-3) have been red-hot themselves, and they picked up the other first-place vote this week while being ranked No. 2 unanimously by the other nine voters in the poll. St. Johns Country Day picked up wins at No. 5 Providence (Jacksonville), No. 6 Clay (Green Cove Springs), and 18th-ranked Fleming Island (Orange Park) over the last two weeks.
Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) moves back up to No. 3 after being ranked No. 7 previously. The Conquerors (14-3) have won seven in a row, including wins at Clay, No. 13 Creekside (St. Johns), No. 20 Mandarin (Jacksonville), and 6A No. 11 and 52-ranked overall statewide Viera. Trinity Christian also defeated Nease (Ponte Vedra) and Chiles (Tallahassee) in that span.
Lake Minneola (Minneola) moves up to No. 4. The Hawks (15-3) have won five of six with the only loss 4-3 at South Lake (Groveland) in 11 innings.
Lake Minneola switches places with Providence, who rounds out the top five. The Stallions (14-4) split four games over the past two weeks, with a loss to unranked Bartram Trail and No. 2 St. Johns Country Day, and wins over Englewood (Jacksonville) and Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville).
Clay leads off the second five. The Blue Devils (14-4) were 3-2 over the past few weeks with a win over Fleming Island and Yulee and setbacks to St. Johns Country Day and Trinity Christian.
Oakleaf (Orange Park) drops one spot to No. 7. The Knights (15-3) defeated Cairo (GA), Baldwin, and RV Union County (Lake Butler), and were beaten by 17th-ranked Ridgeview (Orange Park) and Fernandina Beach, who moved up nine spots to round out the top 10 this week.
North Marion (Citra) is up nine slots to No. 8. The Colts (14-4) have won seven in a row and are No. 2 in 4A and 23rd overall by MaxPreps. North Marion picked up wins over Creekside, RV Trinity Catholic (Ocala), and two victories over Gainesville as well as beating Lumpkin County (GA), 11-1.
Sandalwood (Jacksonville) and Fernandina Beach round out the top 10. The Saints (13-4) defeated Bolles (Jacksonville) and Riverside (Jacksonville) but lost 5-2 to Fernandina Beach.
Fernandina Beach is the hottest team in the Prep Zone Power Poll. The Pirates (14-3) have won 12 games in a row and defeated Sandalwood and Oakleaf on the road in the last two weeks. Fernandina Beach also has wins over No. 14 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) and RV Trinity Catholic (Ocala) during the winning streak. Their only losses came in the first five games of the season to Ridgeview, Wolfson (Jacksonville), and Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville).
Speaking of Wolfson, the Wolfpack are one of the teams new to the poll this week at No. 19. Wolfson (13-3) has won 12 of 13 after a 1-2 start, with the only loss in that span to Lincoln (Tallahassee). The Wolfpack also own wins over Mandarin, Bolles, Fernandina Beach, First Coast (Jacksonville), and Fletcher (Neptune Beach).
Wolfson replaces Union County (Lake Butler), who dropped out of the poll after being ranked 18th previously.
As for teams in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area, Buchholz drops three spots to 11th. The Bobcats (11-5) lost three of five games over the past two weeks, with two setbacks to No. 1 Columbia and a loss at Lincoln (Tallahassee).
Santa Fe (Alachua) moves up four spots to No. 16. The Raiders (12-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped by Forsyth Central (GA), 4-3, but also defeated Bowdon (GA), First Coast, Bartram Trail, and won at Dunnellon.
Area teams receiving votes this week are Union County, Trenton, Keystone Heights, and Oak Hall.
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 #4
(School, followed by classification, first place votes, current record through 4/10, and total voting points)
Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.
1. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (9) (16-2) - 199
2. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (1) (14-3) - 191
3. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (14-3) - 168
4. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (6A) (15-2) - 159
5. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (14-4) - 153
6. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (14-4) - 152
7. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (15-3) - 137
8. North Marion (Citra) (4A) (14-4) - 123
9. Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (13-4) - 122
10. Fernandina Beach (3A) (14-3) - 103
11. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (11-5) - 86
12. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (14-3) - 79
13. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (15-3) - 67
14. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (14-5) - 65
15. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (12-3) - 64
16. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (12-5) - 45
17. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (12-5) - 35
18. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (12-5) - 34
19. Wolfson (Jacksonville) (3A) (13-3) - 30
20. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (7A) (11-5) - 24
Also receiving votes: Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (11-5) - 20; Madison County (1A) (11-5) - 11; Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (3A) (12-6) - 7; Trenton (1A) (15-3) - 5; Keystone Heights (3A) (11-4) - 2; Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (12-3) - 1; The Villages (4A) (9-10) - 1.