For Mount Si’s baseball program, 2011 was a dream season.
The Wildcats won the school’s first baseball championship in coach Elliott Cribby’s debut season as head coach. They knocked off the preseason favorite Shorewood — the Thunderbirds had three players selected in the MLB draft (Blake Snell, Trevor Mitsui and Kevin Moriarty) — in the Class 3A title game and completed a run that was as impressive as it was surprising.
In 2012, though, Mount Si, ranked No. 45 in the ESPNHS Powerade Fab 50, isn’t going to sneak up on anyone. In The Seattle Times’ first state rankings of the season, the defending champions hold down the top spot, featuring a top-tier pitching staff led by Reece Karalus, Trevor Taylor and Trevor Lane.
Looking through the rest of the 3A rankings, some may be surprised to see three teams from Kennewick landing in the top five — No. 2 Kennewick, No. 4 Southridge and No. 5 Kamiakin.
Every coach I talked to said they expect to see great baseball in the Tri-Cities this season and, early on, it’s hard to argue with that.
Just ask Cribby. Mount Si traveled over the mountains last weekend and edged Kamiakin, 5-4, before dropping a game to Kennewick, 4-0.
Enumclaw checks in at No. 3, while Seattle Prep opens the year at No. 6. Panthers coach Ed Paulter said recently that his pitching staff is the deepest he’s had in 27 years as coach, which should prove pivotal in the postseason.
In 4A, there is no clear favorite. A case could be made for a handful of teams to take the top spot, but Puyallup is off to a 6-0 start, so the Vikings open at No. 1.
Kentwood starts at No. 2, while Woodinville checks in at No. 3. Richland, ranked fourth, has made five straight trips to the 4A semifinals and has taken three titles since 2005.
No. 5 Lake Stevens has plenty of talent on its roster and could make a run that rivals the football team’s trip to the state semifinals in the fall.
I expected to have Jackson as the highest ranked WesCo team in 4A. The Timberwolves feature ace Sam Brown, who is heading to Arizona next year. However, sophomore Jason Todd has decided to focus on basketball and will not be on the roster this season, which is a definite blow to a team that played in the title game last season.
Jackson still has talent and starts the year at No. 8, right behind Newport and Edmonds-Woodway.
As is always the case early in the year, expect these rankings to change often. Most of the coaches I talked to said they are still getting a feel for their lineups, giving kids a chance to play while they figure out who will carry the program late in the year.
It is also very difficult to track down accurate records early in the baseball season, so if you see an issue, let me know.
Here are this week’s Class 4A and 3A baseball rankings:
1. Puyallup (6-0)
2. Kentwood (3-0)
3. Woodinville (4-1)
4. Richland (4-2)
5. Lake Stevens (4-0)
6. Newport (Bellevue) (4-0)
7. Edmonds-Woodway (4-0)
8. Jackson (3-2)
9. Tahoma (4-1)
10. Olympia (3-0)
Keep an eye on: Arlington, Auburn Riverside, Davis, Eastlake, Federal Way, Garfield, Gonzaga Prep, Issaquah, Kentlake, Mead, Skyview, South Kitsap, Walla Walla, Wenatchee.
1. Mount Si (Snoqualmie) (4-1)
2. Kennewick (3-1)
3. Enumclaw (4-0)
4. Southridge (Kennewick) (2-2)
5. Kamiakin (Kennewick) (4-1)
6. Seattle Prep (3-0)
7. Mountain View (Vancouver) (1-1)
8. Hanford (5-1)
9. Peninsula (4-0-1)
10. Mount Spokane (4-2)
Keep an eye on: Bishop Blanchet, Eastside Catholic, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Mountlake Terrace, O’Dea, Shorewood, Timberline, West Seattle, West Valley.