The WPIAL Baseball season got off to a very hot start, even though the weather has been basically the opposite. After a little over a week of play, our Power Rankings have witnessed some shake-ups amongst the respective top 10’s.
Prior to diving into our updated rankings, we want to make sure that you understand what our system is based on. First, the corresponding team records have been provided by the Post Gazette’s database. We wanted to be transparent with where we are gathering our numbers so that if they need to be updated in anyway, you are at least aware of where the data derives from. Secondly, we prioritize section record over a team’s overall record. Our rankings are based on the current standing of the team, but also take into account projectability and postseason potential. At the earlier stages of the season, just like we find ourselves in currently, our rankings are more focused on overall team talent and how strong the programs are looking throughout the entire course of 2019.
With all of that being said, let’s jump into the WPIAL Baseball Power Rankings as of April 7th.
There’s a new squad at the top. After an iffy start for the NA Tigers, Pine Richland bumped up to take control over 6A. The two powerhouses we are going to be watching quite closely are both Pine Richland and Canon Mac. Both rosters are loaded with talent (college level talent that is) and know exactly what it takes to win close ball games. If these two can match up in the finals, it would be one heck of a show. Penn Trafford and Central Catholic have come out of the gates firing on all cylinders with 7 wins apiece. We will be curious to see how both of these squads hold up heading into section play, but right now it does not look like either team has any intentions of slowing down soon.
The two top dawgs stay put between Mars and West A. The two big surprises here were Laurel Highlands and Gateway propelling into the top 5. The Mustangs program is consistently strong, and have proven their early dominance year after year with great showings in the early parts of the season. Gateway told us to watch out for them in 2019, and they are backing it up so far with solid wins over Hampton, Woodland Hills, and Butler. Hampton took the biggest drop of the rankings after finding themselves with a below .500 record thus far. Moon and Trinity both earned new ranks after capable showings respectively as well.
We received some negative feedback in regard to Quaker Valley hosting the top position in 4A after some injuries depleted their roster, but so far all they have done is win. With that being said, there are several teams that are right on their tails and gunning for the top spot. Greensburg Salem took a major jump after putting together a 5 game win streak to start off the year. Blackhawk and Knoch are back in the top 5 which has become quite familiar to both programs during the past few years. The two teams that we are seriously watching right now, and going forward, are South Park and Ringgold. Right now, they are ranked 7th and 8th respectively, but we would not be shocked at all if they are both fighting for the #1 spot when it’s all said and done. Both rosters are filled with consistent producers who have played in high-pressure contests before. They have all the makings of championship caliber teams and these early stages of section play should be a strong indicator if they can legitimately reach their high ceiling of potential.
This conference looks as if there has been a ton of shifting, but in reality, it has been sort of standard in our minds. North Catholic took the biggest drop and even though 1-4 is not a record to be proud of, their non-section competition was very strong. Pulling out multiple wins under their circumstances would have been pretty extraordinary. Their strength of schedule could prepare them well for the 3A road ahead, and that is why we support them still in the top 5. McGuffey, Freedom, and Freeport all are welcomed to the Top 10 as first-timers, and find themselves in the middle of a deep slate of equally talented teams. We can confidently say that none of the teams in this top 10 are lacking in talent, but I would also state that none are light years better than the next. 3A should be an exciting conference to watch as the season goes on, and should be filled with many ebs and flows of success/failures for every one of these squads.
The strong got stronger, and 4 newcomers were welcomed to the party. Avonworth and Serra both lived up to the hype that we brought to both programs during the preseason. Neshannock kept on winning just as they always have. OLSH and Seton LaSalle went on a tear to start their year leaving us with no choice but to throw them in the middle of the 2A fire. But with that all being said, Shenango is the squad that opened our eyes. We had them as our Preseason #4 team across this conference, so we are not surprised that they have been so successful. We knew the talent was there, but we did not expect them to dominate the competition so steadily. They have won contests with scores of 16-9, 12-7, 9-2, they took down Riverside 5-1 which is never an easy battle, and got the best of a solid Laurel team that was another one of our sleepers in 2019. Avonworth and Serra are elite teams without a doubt, but don’t sleep on what Shenango is bringing to the table this season.
Last but certainly not least, teams across 1A started their season just as we have become accustomed to. Teams in 1A usually have to start their seasons off playing against the larger schools across the area. This is no disrespect towards them, but it is a tough task to knock down powerhouses with graduation classes that are double, triple, maybe even a bit bigger than that compared to these 1A schools. This is why the records here seem to be so low compared to the teams included above. Union, California, and West Greene have still gotten off to great starts by those accounts. We expect teams like Vincentian and G.C.C. to tear up section play when that commences here in the very near future as well. Two teams to watch on the lower half of our 10 currently are St. Joseph and Bishop Canevin. Both programs are right around the .500 mark, but we could see a quick spike in W’s with local contests finally coming to the table.
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