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2017 NCHSAA Realignment

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2016 2A Baseball Preseason Favorites

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#1 tarheelg61581


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Posted 11 January 2016 - 08:08 AM

Before the season, one never truly knows what will unfold. We know there will be some surprises: Some teams will disappoint, as some of their key returning players that could be big contributors might find themselves injured, ineligible, or might have transferred out, or just chosen not to play....On the flip side, maybe there was a player that missed the last year or two for whatever reason and is back, or maybe a new player transferred in. We might think we know a program will really drop off because of a huge group of graduating seniors and then get stunned when the new group of sophomores and juniors have an even better year. Some teams have high expectations with a team full of seniors but have a big letdown when some of those guys get to pressing and trying do too much, while others have senioritis set in and get apathetic and quit caring. 

Obviously, last year has no direct bearing on this year, but it's still fun to go around the state and try to zero in on who the on-paper favorites are to contend for conference championships and to get deep in the playoffs.

-West Wilkes went 22-6 but for what I can gather, lost their top two pitchers. Will they find a way to still own the 2A division of the Mountain Valley? Could Wilkes Central or Ashe take a step up this year?

-Hendersonville won the Western Highlands and went 19-4 overall but lost a lot of talent to graduation. Could this be the year that Owen, Mtn Heritage, Polk, or Madison rise up? 

-Smoky Mtn won the 2A division of the WNC last year, will they repeat or will Franklin make a move?

-East Rutherford has so much tradition and might seem like the favorite in the South Mountain, but Chase beat them twice in 7 days at end of last season, including bouncing the Cavs in the first round, could Chase contend for the conference this year? Or was last year a sort of rebuilding year for ER, suffering so many close losses to 3A Burns and Crest? Could they be ready to rise up and win the conference outright?

-In the Big South, Huss pulled off the upset of the year in the first round as the 32 seed beating the 1, they wouldn't have been in the playoffs if not for the old split conference playoff qualifying rules, but I believe that pitcher is gone now, will LKN Charter keep dominating the 2A division?

-In the Western Piedmont, North Surry dominated last year all the way to the regional finals and a deciding Game 3, but so much of that team has been decimated by graduation, does anybody see West Stokes, Forbush, or South Stokes challenging for the top spot in this league?

-In So. Dist. 7, East Lincoln ran away with the league last year, but something tells me that it's not a good idea to sleep on Bunker Hill, they return the bulk of their key players, how will West Lincoln, Maiden, and Newton-Conover be this year? Will West Caldwell improve on last year and get into the playoffs?

-In the Rocky River, there was a three way tie at the top last year between West Stanly, Parkwood, and Mount Pleasant, all of whom I thought were going to make runs deep into the playoffs, but two got bounced in the first round and the other got run-ruled in the second round, does any have an edge this year on returning players? Will any of the bottom three in the league improve and get into the playoffs?

-West Davidson, East Davidson, North Rowan, and Salisbury were all above .500 in conference last year in the Central Carolina, which of those should be the favorite this year? WD came out on top last year and made it to the third round of playoffs? Can they get back that far or go even deeper this year?

-Randleman, as PAC 6 champions, were the only 2A team in the whole state last year to go undefeated in conference play, they were taken to a deciding third game in the regional final, before losing the state finals in a deciding third game, they lose their top pitcher, but return a ton of good hitters, another recent thread on this site seems to proclaim that everybody else in this conference is playing for second, if that's true, who has the best chance to get second? I believe Eastern Randolph and Providence Grove lost a lot to graduation, can Trinity or Wheatmore contend for a top three spot this year?

-Carrboro won the Mid-State last year and won one playoff game before losing to Jordan-Matthews in second round, who they beat twice in the regular season, I believe J-M's star pitcher is off to Davidson, but who among their returners can be a difference maker? Will Reidsville, who finished second, be a one year wonder, or should they be the on-paper favorite to win the league this year with arguably 2 of their top 3 hitters and pitchers returning?

-The Northern Carolina is probably the most top-heavy league, with defending state champion South Granville, Roanoke Rapids, and Bunn all battling for the top spot, all three were more than solid last year, Bunn losing in first round to Jordan-Matthews would have been the biggest upset in 2A 1st round if not for 32 seed Huss beating 1 seed West Stanly, look for those Wildcats to be back with a vengeance, losing only a couple of everyday starters, with a lot of the same guys that went to 3rd round as sophomores, and a bunch of guys that also play football that just played in the state championship bringing that playoff experience and grit, RR only lost two seniors from last year's roster, and bring in a transfer from Bunn, lot of experience will help the Jackets, SG loses last year's starting catcher, two starting infielders that did not make an error the entire season, and a couple of utility guys that pitched some, played some outfield, etc., but the top two pitchers return, Franklinton is probably the next best team on paper, returning a lot of experience, they might could even put a scare into the top three

-Midway has dominated the Four County the last couple of years but lost the core of that team that has gone deep in the playoffs three years in a row and did get a ring in 2014, Is this the year that Clinton, West Bladen, or East Bladen leapfrog past the Raiders for the conference? 

-Fairmont returns almost their entire roster from a team that gave Midway all they wanted in a great game in the 4th round last year, the Three Rivers might be just as top-heavy as the Northern Carolina when you consider not only South Columbus and Red Springs, but also the 1A powerhouses in this league Whiteville and West Columbus

-North Lenoir is decimated by graduation so one might wonder if they can continue their dominance of the Eastern Carolina, but I believe Ayden-Grifton, Greene Central, and South Lenoir also lost the bulk of their top RBI guys and best pitchers to graduation, this league could be wide open

-North Johnston, Farmville Central, and North Pitt were at the top of the league last year, tradition says that will probably be the case again this year, it will come down to who can win those nail biters when these teams play each other, and of course who can take care of business and beat the teams they're supposed to beat toward the bottom of the league

-Croatan and North Brunswick appear to have both lost a ton to graduation, can they replace these guys and stay at the top of the East Central? Or will East Duplin have a surprise for us? Can Dixon bring back its glory days of being a baseball powerhouse in recent memory? They've been below .500 for two years in a row, is it rebuilt yet or does rebuilding continue for this program that it is only a few years removed from seemingly going deep in the playoffs every year?

-Holmes brought home the Northeastern-Coastal crown to Edenton last year, but can they do it again after losing the players they did to graduation? First Flight always seems to find a way to get in the mix, and they return their top two pitchers, Currituck, Pasquotank, Bertie, and Northeastern all snuck into the playoffs last year, but none from this conference really made great showings in mid May, even the first place Aces, who were the only team to win in the first round, lost at home in the second round to a team seeded much lower. A bunch of these teams were young, and will have to grow up fast to climb the ladder in the conference