March 11 - Battlefield received 13 of 41 first-place votes and tops the preseason Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll, sponsored by Prime Time Baseball in Alexandria.
The Bobcats, who open their season tonight against Colgan, return one of the area’s deepest pitching staffs, led by two-way standout Zach Agnos, a member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team. Coach Jay Burkhart’s club went 19-6 last year, winning the Region 6D championship before falling to Lake Braddock in the Class 6 state quarterfinals.
Battlefield received 320 points from the magazine’s selection committee consisting of head coaches and members of the local media. Seven teams got first-place votes on the preseason ballot.
At No. 2 is Madison, which received 289 points and eight first-place votes as it enters its 24th season under Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand. The Warhawks, who went 15-7 and won the Concorde District championship in their first year in the league last spring, are eyeing a seventh consecutive district title and a deep postseason run behind one of the area’s best left-handed pitchers in senior Matt Howat.
Madison will open its season on Friday at defending Class 6 state champion West Springfield, which is ranked No. 5 after getting 183 points and six first-place votes. The Spartans went 24-5 under coach Jason Olms last year, and by winning their fourth state title tied the Warhawks for the most among Northern Virginia public schools.
Ahead of the Spartans are No. 3 Freedom-South Riding and No. 4 Riverside, who will square off in another early-season clash of top-five teams on Thursday in Leesburg. Coach Mark Wrighte’s Eagles, coming off a 22-5 season that saw them win the Region 5C championship, got 273 points and seven first-place votes. The Rams, who were 19-3 last year behind returning NOVA Nine Team selection Carson Swank, had 185 points and two first-place votes. Coach Sam Plank’s team was the lone Class 4 representative in the rankings.
No. 6 Potomac received 182 points and four first-place votes, and coach Mike Covington’s club looks primed for another playoff run after winning the Region 5D title and advancing to the Class 5 state final last year. The Panthers, who went 22-5 in 2018, return workhorse two-way standout Brody Mack, another returning member of the NOVA Nine Team.
The poll is rounded out by No. 7 Lake Braddock, which got 179 points and the remaining first-place vote, followed by No. 8 Chantilly, No. 9 Paul VI Catholic and No. 10 Briar Woods.
The Bruins begin a new era under former McLean coach John Thomas after longtime skipper Jody Rutherford stepped down after leading them to a 21-5 record and a berth the Class 6 state tournament. The Chargers, who caught fire late last season to clinch a fourth Class 6 state tournament berth in five years under coach Kevin Ford, received 97 points. The Panthers, who went 24-7 under coach Billy Emerson and reached the VISAA Division I state semifinals, got 80 points. And the Falcons, who went 18-7 under coach Rob Sikora and advanced to a second straight Class 5 state tournament after winning the title the previous spring, received 67 points.
Another 23 schools received votes in the preseason poll, including: Bishop O'Connell (54), Fauquier (51), Centreville (39), Highland School (39), Patriot (27), Westfield (26), Woodgrove (25), Robinson (23), McLean (21), Marshall (17), Flint Hill (13), Brentsville District (13), Stafford (11), Spotsylvania (10), Loudoun Valley (9), Colgan (7), Woodbridge (4), T.C. Williams (3), Yorktown (3), West Potomac (2), Kettle Run (1), South Lakes (1) and Stone Bridge (1).
The magazine is in the midst of its league previews, and will also preview each of the individual Top 10 teams this week.
Sponsor: The magazine’s Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll is sponsored by the Prime Time Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.primetimebaseball.co.
Photo of Battlefield coach Jay Burkhart by Fred Ingham