We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 baseball poll for the final time in 2013 this morning, following last weekend's state championships. To view it, CLICK HERE.
This is the last poll update for the 2013 season. As always, we thank you for following our baseball coverage all spring long.
A few notes about the final poll:
B-R TAKES NO. 1 SPOT
St. John's Prep's two-month reign as the No. 1 team in Massachusetts has come to an end, as Division 1 state champion Bridgewater-Raynham is the new top team in the land. The Trojans' path to the state title was a difficult climb, having to tread through Braintree, Walpole, BC High, Billerica and Nashoba in its final five games.
Two interesting notes to consider with B-R's state championship:
-- After the Trojans spotted Walpole a 6-0 lead in the first inning of their D1 South semifinal matchup, they outscored the competition 26-8 the rest of the way. For the entire playoffs, they outscored their opponents a combined 45-18 over their six contests, with half the the runs coming from a two-game swing against Bay State Conference opponents Braintree (12-0) and Walpole (13-9).
-- Since 1999, parochial schools have accounted for nine Division 1 state titles out of a possible 14, with eight of the nine won by members of the powerhouse Catholic Conference. However, B-R's win on Saturday makes it three public schools to win the D1 state title in the last four years, joining Amherst (2010) and Lincoln-Sudbury (2011). This season also marked the first all-public final four in the D1 tournament since 1998 -- B-R, the South champion, was joined by Billerica (North), Westfield (West), and state runner-up Nashoba (Central).
All of that is worth noting because next season, the MIAA will be introducing a double-elimination Division 1A "Super Eight" tournament, similar to the wildly popular boys ice hockey tournament. Just like in the hockey tournament, the Catholic Conference's dominance at the state level was a contributing factor that influenced the MIAA's Baseball Committee to approve the tournament.
BILLERICA, WESTFIELD MAKE BIG RETURNS
After stunning St. John's Prep in the D1 North Final for its first sectional title since 1983, Billerica returns to the Top 25, vaulting all the way to No. 2. The Indians came into the spring with a considerable amount of buzz, ranked No. 13 in our preseason poll, but struggled in the second half of the season to fall out of the poll.
Westfield saw a similar jump, returning to the poll at No. 6 after capturing its fourth West title in six seasons. The Bombers were ranked No. 9 in our preseason poll, but sputtered and came into the playoffs sporting an 11-9 record.
Rounding out the Top 5 are St. John's Prep (3), BC High (4) and Nashoba (5).
NOTABLE DEBUTS AND RETURNS
As has been the case the last two seasons, there is significant shuffling all up and down the poll. Patriot League foes Hingham (7) and Middleborough (9) make their long-awaited season debuts after winning the D2 and D3 state titles, respectively. Also noteworthy is Auburn, which returns to the poll at No. 8 after pushing Hingham to 12 innings in the D2 state final.
Westford Academy (17) also makes a return to the poll after reaching the D1 North semifinals. Making season debuts in the final poll are Hopedale (13), Masconomet (14), Leominster (18), Stoughton (19), Dartmouth (22) and Whittier (25).
LEAGUE BY LEAGUE
As always, here is how the poll breaks down by league affiliation:
Bay State - 2
Catholic Conference - 2
Northeastern - 2
Old Colony - 2
Patriot - 2
Southern Worcester County - 2
Valley League - 2
Atlantic Coast - 1
Cape Ann - 1
Central Mass. Conference - 1
Commonwealth Athletic - 1
Dual County - 1
Dual Valley - 1
Hockomock - 1
Merrimack Valley - 1
Mid-Wach A - 1
Mid-Wach B - 1
Valley Wheel - 1