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March 12, 2013
The Central Region is two-for-two so far when it comes to winning the highest-classification championship in major sports. L. C. Bird won the Division Six crown in football last fall, and Henrico dominated an All-Central final to capture the last Group AAA basketball championship. So, which local baseball teams have the best shot to complete this pre-realignment trifecta on behalf of our region?
In the Capital District, Hanover has to be considered the favorite. Derek Casey, Andrew Knizner, and others make the perennial power Hawks a threat to win the regional title. Atlee, with Luke Bolka and Kenner Berry, can't be overlooked, however. When Bolka is "on," the Raiders will pose a major threat. Lee-Davis and Glen Allen (in its first year with seniors) have potential as well.
The Colonial District should be a competitive race to the finish, with Godwin and Aaron McGarity the likely favorites, a half-notch ahead of a Freeman team that should be quite good as well, with a lineup featuring guys like Hayden Lee and Cole Hawkins. Deep Run is rebuilding but always has some good players in the pipeline, and Hermitage and Patrick Henry both could have a shot to take a step up this year.
South of the James, the Central District will have a slightly different look this season, as Dinwiddie is rebuilding after three straight district titles. The Generals, with players like Jamar Hinton, will still be solid, but Matoaca and upstart Colonial Heights could surpass them this season. The Warriors, with Philip Van Keuren and others, and the Colonials, with ace Mack Krupp and a good group of seniors, could be the teams standing once the dust settles.
With apologies to Hanover, the mighty Dominion District may once again boast the area's best team. Cosby, with a 1-2 punch of Hunter Williams and Ryan Bickford at the top of the rotation, probably has the best pitching staff (and does have the best outfield) in the area. James River can't be discounted, as the Rapids' lineup will be formidable with players like Mac Caples and Jack Roberts, but Roberts is the only proven arm on an uncharacteristically inexperienced staff. Manchester, L. C. Bird, and Midlothian are all teams on the cusp of the Top Ten, but, as we saw last year, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle in the Dominion. Chances are, at least one of those teams will sink to the lower tier of the district.
Helping to sort all of this out are our panel of Central Virginia coaches, the largest group of voters we've had in the eight years we've been doing the poll. Special thanks go out to these men for helping us with their insights. Here's a look at their inaugural poll. And, remember, the Central Virginia Baseball Coaches' Poll may be found exclusively on VirginiaPreps' VIP Board each and every Tuesday during the season. Here's the first Top Ten:
Central Virginia Baseball Coaches' Poll - Preseason Poll
2. James River
4. Mills Godwin
8. Deep Run
10. Douglas Freeman
And here's my personal preseason Top Ten:
3. James River
4. Mills Godwin
5. Douglas Freeman
10. Colonial Heights
The teams just outside the Top Ten include Midlothian, Deep Run, Dinwiddie, L. C. Bird, and Glen Allen. You can bet these rankings will change a lot early on.
The biggest differences between my rankings and the Coaches' Poll seems to be the feeling about Freeman, and, to a lesser extent, the feeling about Manchester.
Finally, in case you missed any of my in-depth, team-by-team district preview articles, here they are:
It should be another great season in the Central Region, and stay tuned to VirginiaPreps.com for all the latest news, information, and profiles you need to stay plugged in to Central Virginia baseball! You can connect with Tom on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/CRTomGarrett and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CentralRegionTom
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