Westfield High School baseball was named #8 in the ESPN Boston Pre-Season Poll.
Here is the article and listing of the first 15 teams. Note also the opinion of the Westfield team and program.
This poll carries more weight than MassLive and is recognized state-wide as the authority on high school sports.
Brendan C. Hall, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Tonight we unveiled our first statewide MIAA Top 25 baseball poll of the 2015 season. [Here are] a few notes and observations about the first poll of the season:
St. John’s Prep on Top: With an arsenal of heavy bats led by Penn State commit Keith Leavitt and Boston College commit Nick Latham, reigning Catholic Conference champion St. John’s Prep comes into the season as the No. 1 team in the land. While the Eagles graduated a ton of pitching talent from last year’s Super 8 run, there is enough power in the lineup to make many happy. Super 8 runner-up Braintree, with All-Staters Bobby McNiff and Connor Columbus back in the fold, come in at No. 2. Silver Lake has been one of the most talked-about teams of the preseason, behind a star-studded junior class, and they come in at No. 3. Rounding out the top five are St. John’s of Shrewsbury (4) and Catholic Memorial (5).
West is the Best: With at least nine confirmed Division 1 commitments in the region, this is going to be a high-watermark year for Western Mass. Four teams from the region dot the poll, led by No. 8 Westfield, which features a trio of D1 recruits in Chris Sullivan (Hartford), Craig Lacey (Bryant) and Kenny McLean (UMass).
Our preseason top 25 MIAA baseball poll of 2015, as selected by our panel of staff writers, correspondents and area coaches (last year’s record in parenthesis).
- St. John’s Prep (17-6): Eagles lost number of key arms after an earlier-than-expected departure from last year’s inaugural Super 8 tournament. But a talented hitting lineup led by Keith Leavitt (Penn State) and Boston College commits Nick Latham and Jacob Yish should buy some time for the new staff.
- Braintree (20-5): Wamps return a number of integral pieces from last year’s Super 8 runner-up squad, none bigger than returning All-State selections Connor Columbus and Bobby McNiff. Keep an eye on junior Scott Creedon, who’s bound for a breakout season.
- Silver Lake (20-5): A pair of prized junior righthanders, Hartford commit Jason Johndrow and returning All-State selection Anthony Videtto, look to lead the Lakers back into the Super 8.
- St. John’s (Shrewsbury) (17-8): As usual, there is star power here, led by Notre Dame-bound righthander Shane Combs and Virginia Tech-bound junior shortstop Jake Rosen. But to get Super 8 consideration, they will have to fare much better against the Catholic Conference than they did a year ago.
- Catholic Memorial (14-8): Nobody seems to know for sure which way the Catholic Conference is headed this spring, with considerable parity expected. But with junior Tyler Bell on the bump, Knights are in good position to return to the Super 8.
- Bridgewater-Raynham (20-4): On the mound, there isn’t a better 1-2 punch in the state than returning All-State selections Jack Connolly and Andrew Noviello. The questions in the Trojans’ quest for a return trip to the Super 8 semifinals lie in the offense.
- Xaverian (9-11): Hawks are expected to bounce back strong after uncharacteristically missing out on the postseason last spring. Northeastern-bound senior Jake Farrell, whose 2014 campaign was shortened by injury, is healthy once again.
- Westfield (15-6): This is routinely one of the most consistent programs west of I-495, but the Bombers boast an especially star-studded lineup in 2015, led by Division 1 signees Chris Sullivan (Hartford), Craig Lacey (Bryant) and Kenny McLean (UMass). A big tilt with Billerica on April 18 could go a long way towards determining if a Western Mass team gets into the Super 8.
- Plymouth North (13-8): If all goes well for the Blue Eagles, they could make the strongest case yet for a Division 2 team’s inclusion in the Super 8. A trio of quality arms, led by Boston College-bound junior Joe Walsh, accompany a solid hitting lineup.
- Lincoln-Sudbury (20-6): As always, the Warriors are among the best-coached programs across the Bay State, a point underscored by their surprise run to the Super 8 semifinals a season ago. Keep an eye on middle infielder Scott Holzwasser, one of the better gloves in the region.
- Malden Catholic (12-9): Lancers made a quick exit in last year’s Division 1 North tournament, but they return stronger this spring with Boston College signee Austin Batchelor finally healthy after Tommy John surgery.
- Billerica (14-6): Another Division 1-bound Murphy – this time, Northeastern signee Kyle – leads a staff that figures to once again garner Super 8 consideration.
- West Springfield (16-6): After recording one of the best turnarounds in the state a year ago, Terriers primed to follow up on that momentum with a promising core of underclassmen, led by UConn-bound junior shortstop Connor Moriarty.
- Newton North (23-1): Tigers have a lot of arms to replace after winning the inaugural Super 8 title. But this was one of the best teams last spring at manufacturing runs, and Columbia-bound outfielder Ben Porter makes them strong in that department again.
- Leominster (21-4): Feeling slighted by the Super 8 committee, the Blue Devils channeled that frustration into the program’s first Division 1 State Championship since 1996. They’ll turn to UMass-bound shortstop Ryan Lever in their title defense.
The poll will be updated week to week.