Posted: 11:55 am Monday, March 24th, 2014
By Anthony Chiang
We have moved past spring break, which means the postseason is not too far away.
This is the time to start paying attention to district races, as teams battle it out for the top seeds in their district tournaments. Here’s a look at where teams stand as we head into the final week of March.
Post Top 10
1. Park Vista (14-0): Stayed perfect with a statement win over Dwyer on Friday.
2. West Boca Raton (10-1): Have scored nine or more runs in five games.
3. Dwyer (9-4): Won nine of past 11 games after 0-2 start.
4. Trinity Christian (12-3): Bruce Martin hitting .455 for the Warriors.
5. Palm Beach Central (11-5-1): Had an impressive 3-1 showing at the Florida League High School Invitational.
6. Palm Beach Gardens (11-5): Went 4-0 at the Florida League High School Invitational.
7. American Heritage (9-5): Have lost two in a row after seven-game winning streak.
8. Cardinal Newman (10-5): On three-game winning streak.
9. Wellington (11-5): Have won eight of past nine games.
10. Spanish River (11-6): Won the Lake Worth Spring Break Tournament.
Park Vista didn’t travel to play in a spring break tournament, but it was still a difficult week for the Cobras. But Park Vista came away unscathed, beating King’s Academy, Jupiter and Dwyer last week to stay at No. 1.
Palm Beach Central and Palm Beach Gardens represented District 9-8A well in the Florida League High School Invitational. The Broncos fell to California’s San Gorgonio in the tourney’s championship game. And the Gators went a perfect 4-0 in the tourney, rebounding from a disappointing 2-3 start to district play. Both teams moved up two spots in this week’s rankings.
On the other side, American Heritage did not have a memorable spring break. The Stallions are currently on a two-game losing streak after falling to Parkland-Douglas last week. American Heritage’s offense has been inconsistent this season, as it has scored five or more runs in seven games and has been held to less than three runs in five games.
Spanish River made its return to the rankings this week after winning the Lake Worth Spring Break Tournament. The Sharks have won five straight behind dominant pitching. Chui Slootsky leads the staff with a 1.28 ERA in 27 1/3 innings on the mound. Royal Palm Beach dropped out of the top 10 after losing four straight over spring break. The Wildcats are now 9-7 this season.
Games of the Week
No. 9 Wellington (11-5) at No. 5 Palm Beach Central (11-5-1), Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.: This is an important district game between the two top teams in District 9-8A. The Wolverines and the Broncos are tied for first place with 3-2 district records. But that tie will be broken Tuesday. The Wolverines edged out a 2-0 victory over the Broncos earlier in the season, but Palm Beach Central has been playing well recently. The Broncos have won eight of their past nine, including wins over Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter and Seminole Ridge. This game could end up deciding the winner of one of the toughest districts in the area.
No. 3 Dwyer (9-4) at No. 6 Palm Beach Gardens (11-5), Wednesday at 7 p.m.: This game will feature some future top MLB Draft picks. The Panthers feature star pitcher Thomas Szapucki, who is rated as one of the top 2015 prospects in the country. Meanwhile, the Gators throw out star catcher J.J. Schwarz and first baseman/pitcher Pavin Smith in the middle of their batting order. Both are expected to be drafted in this year’s MLB Draft. If you want to see some talent, come out and watch this heavyweight matchup.
No. 5 Palm Beach Central (11-5-1) at No. 1 Park Vista (14-0), Saturday at 1 p.m.: Two of the area’s top-five teams will square off this weekend. The Broncos bring a surprising 11-5-1 record, as they try to hand the Cobras their first loss of the season. But it won’t be easy, as Park Vista has seven players batting over .300. Palm Beach Central’s pitching staff will need to find a way to limit the Cobras’ offense if it’s going to have a chance.
About the Author
Anthony Chiang began his writing career in Gainesville at the University of Florida’s student-run newspaper. At The Independent Florida Alligator, he covered the school’s golf, volleyball, baseball, and football teams. The Miami native has also written for the Sun Sentinel and MLB.com, following the Tampa Bay Rays.