The winds of change have blown through the Super 7 this week, thanks to a little more information on the part of a beatwriter who can proudly say he’s seen all 10 of the teams listed below. It’s shakeup time after some less-than-convincing performances from the majority of the field and one very convincing one. Also of note, you can check the updated stat leaders for batters and pitchers. (Records based on games reported to the Daily times through April 28.)
1. Penncrest (11-3) Last Week: No. 5
I’ve been hesitant about the Lions all season. They have a lot of young players, a lot of new varsity players who were obviously talented but would have to face the challenge of bringing their best every day. They’ve delivered thus far, winning a showdown with Harriton Monday to sit atop the Central League at 9-2. They have arguably the best pitching staff in the county, with Tyler Kight, Matt Briner and Rob Brown. They are getting contributions from up and down the order, with Nate Sides on a recent tear, Steve Moppert hitting well and a number of other contributors. They’ve lost to Strath Haven and Garnet Valley, but those defeats by a combined four runs pale in comparison to trouncing the likes of Marple Newtown and Radnor by a combined 21-0.
2. Garnet Valley (8-3) Last Week: No. 1
Before you remind me, I know that Garnet Valley beat Penncrest. I was there. But when you consider that the Jags are just one kick off Moppert’s glove better than the Lions, I have no problem flip-flopping them this week. It’s no slight on the Jaguars: They have kept their nose pretty clean in the Central League with three losses, including a one-run decision to Harriton and a loss to Radnor, a team they always seem to struggle with. The bottom line with Penncrest and GV (and I think Strath Haven, as well) is that all three are doing their jobs through a tough slate. We won’t know much more about their abilities until push comes to shove in the playoffs.
3. Cardinal O’Hara (9-5) Last Week: No. 2
The Lions have some issues to fix. They have the offense, they have the pitching, but if they play the kind of defense they showed Monday in a 4-3 loss to Archbishop Ryan, they are not going to be long for a cutthroat Catholic League tournament. The consensus among the players after the Ryan loss is that O’Hara is too talented go be going 1-3 over stretches as they have in the last four games. I agree on both counts – on their talent and their disappointing inability to win games of late (though they did beat Bonner-Prendergast).
4. Haverford School (11-7) Last Week: No. 3
Speaking of teams that have lost three of their last four, the Fords have struggled lately. The pitching staff hasn’t exactly matured as expected. Case in point: They are 6-1 when Connor Burke (with a 4-1 record) pitches. That means they are 5-6 without him ascending the bump. Being 2-3 in their league doesn’t help either, nor does that fact that their last three losses have been in blowout fashion – 11-1 against Germantown Academy, 13-4 at the hands of Malvern Prep and 9-1 against Marple Newtown.
5. Strath Haven (8-4) Last Week: No. 6
On any given day, I think the Panthers give the four teams in front of them a run for their money, and they have beaten Penncrest this season. Now that Kevin Mohollen is back from injury, this lineup could really get humming again. But perhaps most important to the equation is how Mohollen’s guidance behind the plate can help further the already impressive maturation process of young pitchers like Will Carey, Dan Enterlin and Ashton Raines.
6. Bonner-Prendergast (9-4) Last Week: No. 4
The Friars ability to institute some regularity in their rotation as the rain (presumably) eases off in May will be a big boost. They are hitting in fits and starts. The double-edged sword of the balanced lineup is clear: There’s no star to worry about getting shut down at crucial times, but there’s also no one to look to as the leader like they’ve had in recent years. I tend to think the Friars would rather play the 3-2, 2-1 type games rather than slugfests like the 10-8 win over Lansdale Catholic last week.
7. Marple Newtown (8-5) Last Week: NR
It’s time to return the Tigers to the Super 7. They have won seven of their last eight, the only blemish a nonleague loss to Episcopal Academy. In those wins, including a 4-1 victory over Conestoga, they’ve given up a combined seven runs. It’s all about the pitching here. Ciaran Cahalane has been the ace, and Matt Young has pitched much better of late while they’ve strung together enough offense to post wins. This is a team to watch moving forward.
Dropped out: Radnor (8-6) Last Week No. 7
I can’t believe I’m relegating a team that just beat Garnet Valley, but when you look at Radnor, the only wins for them to hang their hat on are that one and the win over Marple way back on April 1. Give Marple the edge in the “what have you done for me lately” category.
Honorable mention: Interboro (11-1; the Bucs’ only setback was to Chichester, which they avenged last week. It’ll be interesting to see if they opt for Sean Douglass in the rematch or if they trot out Jason Lincoln, who battled valiantly last time out, for the pivotal league-title decider next week); Chichester (7-2; the same question goes for the Eagles: Do they dare throw John Millison a third time against Interboro, or will Brian Snyder get the ball?)