Baseball blog: Georgia programs crowd latest national poll

May 21, 2016 Buford - Locust Grove starting pitcher Ethan Lindow hurls the ball towards the plate during their game against Buford during the GHSA Class AAAA Championship Baseball Tournament in Buford on Saturday, May 21, 2016. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

Combined ShapeCaption
May 21, 2016 Buford - Locust Grove starting pitcher Ethan Lindow hurls the ball towards the plate during their game against Buford during the GHSA Class AAAA Championship Baseball Tournament in Buford on Saturday, May 21, 2016. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

When the 2019-20 GHSA baseball season abruptly ended last March, Mill Creek was the highest-rated team from the state in the Maxpreps National poll. The Hawks found themselves at No. 4 in the country and were 14-1 overall with a 125-to-41 scored runs advantage over their opponents. Buford (No. 8, 9-1) and Blessed Trinity (No. 25, 12-3) were also represented in the Maxpreps top 25 national ratings when the season ended. While it is unfortunate for the state, and these highly-successfully teams that they did not get the opportunity to see out the rest of their season, the state of Georgia is crowding the National rankings this spring and there are plenty of pathways for a Peach State program to earn a coveted National Championship this season.

There are various National polls that could ultimately crown a National Championship as seen in 2015 when Parkview earned No. 1 status unanimously by taking home the MaxPreps Xcellent 50 top slot in addition to finishing No. 1 in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, Perfect Game and USA Today Super 25 polls. Today’s blog will take a look at the state’s highest rated teams this season and when these top programs will be returning to the diamond next.

The Class 6A-based Buford Wolves are currently ranked No. 2 in the Maxpreps Xcellent National rankings and their play this season is well deserving of this recognition. The Wolves are off to a 14-0 start and have outscored opponents by a whopping 107-13 along the way. Buford picked up a 15-0 win over a solid 6-6 Habersham Central team on Monday. Its game with the Raiders on Wednesday was cancelled due to weather and so Buford will host Habersham Central for a double-header on Friday. Buford has shutout nine of its 14 opponents this season.

Grayson’s 10-0 start this season has come against a very difficult string of opponents and this has sent the Rams up to No. 14 in the latest XCellent poll. The Class 7A-based Rams boosted their resume with a big 9-2 win over Parkview on Monday and they will have a chance to continue rising in the rankings with a trip to Parkview on Friday and a home game against the Panthers on Saturday to complete the regular season series. Grayson has compiled a 71-36 runs advantage over its opponents.

Buford joined Class 6A this year after competing in Class 5A last season and so did Carrollton, which is currently ranked No. 17 in the XCellent ratings. The Trojans are off to an 11-0 start and have outscored opponents 56-24. Carrollton won its region opener 11-5 against South Paudling on Monday and will host South Paulding tonight after Wednesday’s game was postponed.

Winder-Barrow is another Class 6A program currently represented in the XCellent top 25 and the Bulldoggs are sitting at No. 25 with an 11-1 start. Winder-Barrow’s only loss came to Peachtree Ridge and they are scheduled to host Central Gwinnett on Friday. The Bulldoggs played a double-header against Central Gwinnett on Monday and dominated with a 34-0 advantage in runs. Winder-Barrow’s 21-0 win in the backend of the double-header took just three innings.

The other programs that are knocking on the door of the XCellent top 25 are Allatoona (12-2), Benedictine (11-0), North Oconee (13-1) and Pierce County (10-1). Region competition is heating up across the state and the National Rankings will be a storyline to keep an eye on as the playoffs rapidly approach.