News4Jax Super 6: Bolles opens baseball season atop poll

Bolles hurler Hunter Barco is projected to be a first-round draft pick in Monday's Major League Baseball draft.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax.com Super 6 high school baseball weekly power rankings will be published each Thursday during the season. Records are through Feb. 27 games. 

No., Team, Class, Previous

1. Bolles (1-0), Class 5A, —

Notable win: University Christian.

Glance: The Bulldogs were one bad inning away from a potential state championship three-peat last year. Bolles has arguably the area’s best player in P Hunter Barco, a two-way star who is among the best to come through the program. How good is Barco? He fired a no-hitter with 10 Ks in his first outing of the season Tuesday in an 18-0 win over University Christian. Bolles has other valuable pieces back, including OF Bryson Kirksey (.253, 4 HR), P Patrick Libby (6-1, 2.58 ERA) and C Cal Henrichsen (.295). Coach Mike Boswell said that Bolles’ success this season will be finding depth. District 3-5A will once again be a battle with Baker County and Suwannee. This should be another extended season for the Bulldogs. 

2. Trinity Christian (0-0), Class 4A, —

Notable wins: None. 

A 21-9 season and a state semifinal berth last year may have been bit unexpected when 2018 started because this was a relatively young lineup across the board. This year, the expectations are significantly increased because of the number of returnees, 13 of them. Senior hurlers Dylan Simmons (Florida State), Austin Thomas (Miami) and Justin Parrish (UNF) could form the area’s deepest pitching staff. 2B Conner Aldrich and junior SS Bryan Muniz return, as does 3B Matt Crump, who led the team in batting last year (.407).

3. Providence (0-0), Class 4A, —

Notable wins: None.

Glance: Some debate on Trinity and Providence at 2 and 3, but I’ve got the Stallions here to start based on how 2018 ended. The Stallions went 24-6 and lost in a tight regional final last year to Trinity Christian and it will once again come down to those teams in District 2-4A, although Episcopal is always in the mix, too. Providence has a laundry list of stars, with South Carolina signee Tyler Callihan (.440, 6 HR, 34 RBI) and Nathan Hickey (.419, 7 HR, 26 RBI) two of the best around, probably No. 2 and 3 in the area in terms of pure talent behind Bolles’ Barco. Callihan is also the team’s top returning arm (9-1, 55 Ks in 38 IP, 1.30 ERA). The addition of Tucker Talbot will help offset some losses. Something to keep an eye on. Coach Mac Mackiewitz (397-126) will hit 400 career victories in early March. 

4. Creekside (1-0), Class 8A, —

Notable win: Bishop Kenny.

Glance: At 22-7 a season ago, the Knights reached the regional finals before losing to Pace. IF Daniel Cantu (.423, 38 RBI, 15 SBs, 14 2Bs) is in the conversation as one of the area’s top five players. The Knights lost five to graduation, but that should be viewed of as more of an opportunity for younger players to keep things going. This program has been one of the area’s most consistent since its first season in 2009. The Knights have never won fewer than 17 games in a season. 

5. Clay (1-0, Class 6A), —

Notable wins: None.

Glance: The Blue Devils reached the state semifinals at 24-7 a year ago, emerging from a top-heavy District 4-6A and the likes of Ridgeview and Ponte Vedra. P Dylan Faulkner was one of Clay’s inning-eaters last year and he went 8-1 as the No. 2 arm, and he returns the front the Blue Devils’ staff. Justin Mosley (.429), Blake Parker (.429) and Zack Morris (.400) are leading the Blue Devils at the plate early this season. 

6. Mandarin (2-0), Class 9A, — 

Notable wins: Christ’s Church, Episcopal.

Glance: This may be a little high to start considering all of the graduation losses, but the Mustangs went 21-6 last year and won the District 1-9A title. That was largely due to an incredible pitching staff that had a 1.45 team ERA and 197 Ks in 184 IP. There are a slew of innings available after Mandarin graduated its top three arms. Nick Martins (3-1, 21.2 IP, 19 Ks, 2.26 ERA) is the top returning pitcher. Hitting will need to develop. Josemarcos Sevillano (.286) is the leading returning batter. The Mustangs get the early nod here over district rival Sandalwood. 

On the bubble: Atlantic Coast (1-1, Class 8A), Baker County (0-1, Class 5A), Bartram Trail (0-0, Class 8A), Bishop Kenny (0-1, Class 5A), Episcopal (0-1, Class 5A), Fletcher (2-0, Class 8A), Parker (1-0, Class 6A), Ponte Vedra (0-0, Class 6A), Ridgeview (1-0, Class 6A), Sandalwood (2-0, Class 9A), Yulee (0-0, Class 6A).

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