Picking the top five area baseball, softball, track and girls soccer teams
It may be early in the season, but it’s never too early to start ranking teams.
This week marks the first week of the AnnArbor.com/MLive.com spring sports rankings.
Some teams didn’t open their season until this week. Some haven’t played at all yet. So we’ll draw on preseason outlooks as we put together some rankings that are sure to evolve radically throughout the course of the season.
We’ll rank five area sports each week, and spotlight one of them. This week, we’re focusing on baseball.
And the team at the top is the one that’s been there for the past five years: Saline. The Hornets are ranked No. 8 in Division 1 in the preseason Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings, and started the season Saturday by winning a tournament in Blissfield, sweeping all three teams.
“This year is going to be a big year,” pitcher Michael Hendrickson said before the season. I’m expecting big things. I’ve definitely been well prepared by the people before me and by my coaches.”
Hendrickson is one of two new starters the Hornets will be breaking in. Hendrickson went four hitless innings in Saline’s opening tournament, and Eric Berki pitched all seven innings, giving up two runs against Monroe Jefferson.
At the plate, Trent Theisen led the way with six hits in the three games, and AJ Korzuck had five.
1. Saline: No surprise here, the program that has been to Battle Creek four of the past five years sets the standard for area high school baseball.
2. Chelsea: The Bulldogs went to the state quarterfinals last year, the furthest of any team besides Saline.
3. Huron: The River Rats boast the area’s best player in Demetrius Sims, and started the season with a split with Allen Park.
4. Dexter: The reigning district champs fell twice to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s before topping Pinckney Tuesday.
5. Milan: The Big Reds are 4-0 after sweeping Dundee Saturday and Ypsilanti before that.
1. Milan: The Big Reds were the only district champions from Washtenaw County last year, but have had all their games postponed so far this year.
2. Chelsea: The Bulldogs went 30-2 during the regular season last year to win their first SEC title in eight years.
3. Saline: The Hornets don’t open their season until Saturday, but when they do they’ll be looking for another league title.
4. Manchester: Manchester started its year with a 13-0 win over Whitmore Lake, after reaching a district final last year.
1. Saline: The area power finished 3rd at last year’s state meet and should be having another big year.
2. Chelsea: While Saline finished 3rd in Division 2, Chelsea finished 3rd in Division 2 following an SEC White title and have Berkley Edwards back.
3. Pioneer: The Pioneers finished third last year in the SEC Red, second among county teams, but have lost state champion Drake Johnson.
4. Ypsilanti: The Phoenix finished ninth in the state last year, but were pummeled 111-23 to Chelsea Wednesday night in its season opener. The loss of 100-meter dash champion Austin Sanders hurts the Phoenix.
5. Lincoln: Central Michigan football commit Tyree Waller returns to the Railsplitters after a runner-up finish in the long jump.
1. Saline: The Hornets finished fifth in the state last year and started the year of with a 101-36 win over Pioneer Tuesday.
2. Chelsea: The Bulldogs took their dual meet win streak to 25 with a Tuesday night win over Ypsilanti.
3. Huron: The River Rats were state runners up last year, but will have to deal with the departures of state champions Maya Long and Cindy Ofili.
4. Pioneer: The Pioneers were eighth-place finishers at last year’s state meet, and 300 hurdles runner-up Chinonye Uche returns this year.
5. Lincoln: Chelsea may have the dual meet streak, but Lincoln was last year’s SEC White champion.
Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com file photo
2. Saline: The Hornets went 15-6-3 last year and reached a regional final, topping Skyline and Huron in the district tournament.
3. Father Gabriel Richard: The Irish were 14-3-1 last year and are 2-1 on this season.
4. Huron: The River Rats topped Pioneer and lost a close game to Saline in last year’s district tournament.
5. Pioneer: Jenny Fichera is back for the Pioneers, who tied Trenton to open their season Wednesday.
Kyle Austin covers sports for AnnArbor.com.