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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
National Classic shakes up FAB 50

By Doug Huff & Mark Tennis
ESPNRISE.com

Editor's note: The ESPN RISE FAB 50 baseball rankings are compiled by Doug Huff, Mark Tennis, Jon Mahoney, Matt Remsberg, Andrew Drennen and Chris Lawlor. They will be released each week throughout the season.

Baseball is always the most tumultuous sport for high school rankings, and this week's ESPN RISE FAB 50 is no exception. Things should settle down for a few weeks, however, now that almost all of the various Easter vacation or spring break tournaments are in the books and those top teams that already are in playoff mode won't tend to get tested in the early rounds.

The Anderson Bats National Classic in Fullerton, Calif., forced the most changes in this week's FAB 50. Eventual champion Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) moved up into the top 10, which was an obvious move, but others were more difficult. Where to drop previous No. 4 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) and where to elevate previous No. 16 Notre Dame Prep of Arizona, for example, required more research and comparisons.

Don Bosco Prep, which was unbeaten and was No. 1 in the FAB 50 a year ago, was not the only only top five team from last week to take a tumble. Previous No. 2 Lakeland (Fla.), also suffered multiple defeats. This enabled Bellaire (Texas), to move back up to No. 2, one spot behind unbeaten and still No. 1 Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.).

There was one team among the 12 newcomers to this week's FAB 50 that required more evaluation than usual and that was new No. 37 Pendleton School of Bradenton, Fla.

Pendleton happens to be the baseball portion of IMG Academy, which began 30 years ago for tennis players and has expanded to include golf, soccer and other sports. The Panthers are associate members of the Florida High School Athletic Association but do not participate in the FHSAA playoffs.

To be consistent with the FAB 50 in other sports, it was determined to include Pendleton in the ESPN RISE rankings. The team does play a high school schedule and no fifth-year seniors are accepted into the school. The Panthers, therefore, can be considered in the same category in baseball as Oak Hill Academy of Virginia in basketball.

The difficulty in ranking Pendleton in baseball is that the team will not be able to further prove itself in the extremely competitive Florida state playoffs. To be ranked as high as possible, the Panthers will need to hope for some of the Class 5A or Class 6A teams they've beaten to do very well in those playoffs.

The highest-ranked of this week's newcomers is No. 28 St. Ignatius of Cleveland, which won the Ohio Jesuit tournament.

Rankings: FAB 50 / Regional