Five High School Teams To Watch

Graham Hoffman

We’re rolling out a new segment here at Baseball America, focused on spotlighting five of the top high school teams around the country every week. Every other Tuesday we will have updated Top 25 rankings—you can find our latest Top 25 here—but we also wanted to pick out a handful of teams to give a deeper look.

Every Tuesday we’ll talk to college coaches about their teams, players, current season and playoffs, with Georgia schools currently in the midst of playoffs and Florida and other states starting this week.

We’ll start this week with a Florida team that has been shooting up the rankings:

Calvary Christian, Clearwater, Fla.

Calvary Christian completed a perfect 24-0 regular season last Friday, beating Inspiration (Bradenton, Fla.) Academy 13-2 on Senior Night in Clearwater. Senior lefthander Jonathan Fisher threw five innings and allowed just two runs, while senior shortstop and righthanded pitcher Graham Hoffman closed out the game in the sixth with three strikeouts on 13 pitches.

Calvary Christian, which jumped from No. 17 to No. 5 in our Top 25, will now try to remain undefeated as it begins its playoff stretch Thursday, with what coach Greg Olsen says is the most tight-knit team he’s ever had.

“You know, it just seems to be a group that sticks together,” Olsen said. “If everything's going right within a game or whether we're facing some adversity, they really stick together and fight for each other. I think going into every year, every coach kind of wonders how that part of their team will play out. And for us, since the first week of practice really, just saw something different within this group.”

The Warriors have outscored opponents 192-38 this season, thanks to extremely impressive efforts from a pair of junior Division I signees and a sophomore lefthander committed to Texas Christian.

Center fielder Eric Kennedy, an Alabama commit, is leading the team across all triple-slash categories (.557/.636/.942) and had six RBIs in Friday’s win over Inspiration as he doubled, tripled and homered. Kennedy is the sparkplug in Calvary’s lineup, and the green light that Olsen has given him once he gets on the bases has paid off with a team-high 21 stolen bases.

Catcher Matheu Nelson is a Florida State commit who’s right behind Kennedy in most statistical categories, with the exception of home runs, where Nelson leads the team (four). Olsen said that Nelson was the team’s natural vocal leader behind the plate, and praised his receiving skills.

On the mound, lefthander Nolan Hudi has had the biggest innings workload, and is 7-0 with a 0.17 ERA. Hudi has allowed just one earned run through 41 innings on the mound, and has struck out 56 batters while walking 20.

The youth is complemented with the efforts of Hoffman, who’s a four-year starter committed to South Florida, and has also seen some interest from professional scouts this spring. Hoffman has hit .378/.432/.554 this season, in addition to throwing 15 innings as a reliever, striking out 25 batters and walking five, with a 0.47 ERA.

We got a group that is really fun to coach,” Olsen said. “I think as a coaching staff we are at Calvary Christian High School because we get to share our faith. That is priority No. 1 within our program, and the development of these players on a spiritual level and personal level and a baseball level, that's second.

“And I think if, as a program, we continue to keep those priorities in order then the growth of the program and winning games will take care of itself. And I think that has been something that this year's group of players has been a prime example of.”

Four More

Moorpark (Calif.) High. Moorpark entered the Top 25 at No. 6 this week after a going 3-1 with a pair of wins over Royal (Simi Valley, Calif.) High and one win against Simi Valley (Calif.) High. The Musketeers are now 21-3 overall and 9-1 in their league. Additionally, they won the 2017 Pride Classic Tournament, and won 18 straight games from March 7 through April 21. Moorpark is currently the No. 2 California team in the country behind No. 1 overall Huntington Beach.

Allatoona (Acworth, Ga.) High. Allatoona is the second-highest riser among teams previously unranked, after Moorpark, coming into the Top 25 at No. 13. Allatoona is led by senior South Carolina commit Kyle Jacobsen, who plays outfield, first base and is a righthanded pitcher.  Jacobsen has throttled the ball this season, hitting .462/.612/.884 with eight home runs, seven doubles and a triple. On the mound he’s posted a 1.21 ERA in 34.1 innings with 23 strikeouts and 11 walks. Allatoona begins the second round of the Georgia playoffs on Thursday against Effingham County (Springfield, Ga.) High, and could potentially matchup with No. 11 Winder-Barrow (Winder, Ga.) in the semifinals of the Class 6A tournament.

Basha (Chandler, Ariz.) High. Basha slides into the No. 10 spot in this week’s Top 25 after Horizon (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was swept by Pinnacle (Phoenix) in a doubleheader on April 21. Coincidentally, Pinnacle is the school that Basha matches up with in the first round of the Arizona Conference 6A State Championship on Wednesday. Basha will go into that game as the favorite as the top-seeded team in the tournament, but Pinnacle is a strong program that was ranked as high as No. 6 on Baseball America’s Top 25, and has a reliable run producer in shortstop Jake Holmes, an Arizona State commit. Basha is led offensively by senior Stephen Fernandez (1.342 OPS) and junior Seth Beckstead (1.184 OPS), a Grand Canyon commit. Basha is currently on a 15-game winning streak.

St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) High. St. John Bosco is the No. 18 team on our Top 25, and is also the only team ranked with five losses. The reason for that has to do with their strength of schedule and their impressive performance in the Trinity League, which is arguably the toughest league in Southern California, if not the entire state. They went just 2-2 last week, but have three wins against 2017 NHSI champion Orange (Calif.) Lutheran and went 2-1 vs. perennial power Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). They have a three game series this week against Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) before wrapping up their regular season against Royce Lewis and JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) Catholic, in a three game series that could determine St. John’s standing in both the Trinity League and around the country.

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