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It’s been a bounty of postseason honors for coach Richard La Bounty and his baseball team at Pensacola Catholic of Pensacola, Fla.
Add one more for the Crusaders as they’ve been selected as the FAB 50 national champion and are on top of the final FAB 50 national rankings by Student Sports.
The Student Sports FAB 50 was not compiled during the season, but is an extension of a national rankings program that in previous seasons has been part of ESPN, Rivals.com and Fox Sports. Look for the FAB 50 national rankings to be back in softball every week next season and in other sports (including football) for the 2013-14 school year.
Pensacola Catholic pulled off the hard-to-believe feat of going unbeaten and winning an upper division state title in the ultra-difficult Florida state playoffs. The team also won its second straight Class 4A crown by topping Monsignor Pace of Miami 7-5 in the title game.
It’s safe to say that if the Crusaders had lost just once, that the final No. 1 ranking in the FAB 50 would have gone to 36-0 Owasso of Oklahoma. The unbeaten record for the Rams was a first for them, but they also went to Florida, played several top teams and didn’t lose. In previous years, top Owasso teams have dropped games in trips to Florida.
FINAL STUDENT SPORTS
FAB 50 BASEBALL RANKINGS
1. Pensacola Catholic (Pensacola, Fla.) 30-0
Junior James McGhee came through with a two-run double in the eighth inning to help the Crusaders win their last game. For the season, the team had that great combination of pitching and hitting that the best of the best all possess. Senior Avery Cooper, headed to Mississippi State, went 12-0 with a 0.74 ERA while senior Cooper Jones went 9-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Senior Drew La Bounty led the hitters at .511 while junior Cody Henry had 43 RBIs and sophomore Evans Bozeman had seven homers.
2. Owasso (Owasso, Okla.) 36-0
Brothers Ausin and Mason O’Brien and third baseman Trae Bobo were the heavy hitters in the middle of the Rams’ lineup. The O’Briens are nephews of former MLB catcher Charlie O’Brien.
3. Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio) 32-2
With a 7-1 win over St. Ignatius of Cleveland, the Crusaders became the first team in 17 years to win back-to-back Division I state championships. Known for producing Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin, Moeller also now has 12 state titles in program history.
4. Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) 28-4
Junior pitcher Jack Flaherty capped a 13-0 season with a shutout in the team’s 1-0 victory at Dodger Stadium over Marina of Huntington Beach in the CIF Southern Section Division I final. The Wolverines also were runner-up to Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the second straight All-California final at the National High School Invitational in North Carolina.
5. Venice (Venice, Fla.) 29-3
Swinging hot bats in the Class 7A state finals, the Indians had 21 hits in a 14-4 win over Haines City to defend their state title.
6. The Woodlands (Conroe, Texas) 38-4
For the third time since 2000, the Highlanders ended the season as state champions as they rallied from an early deficit to defeat Dulles of Fort Bend 9-5 in the Class 5A state finals.
7. St. Francis (Mountain View, Calif.) 30-4
After watching both the Lancers and No. 4 Harvard-Westlake, there was no difference if any between the two teams in all facets of the game. St. Francis, which won the CIF Central Coast Section Division I title, also has a big-time junior pitcher, too, in lefty John Gavin.
8. Desert Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) 31-4
Facing the two-time defending state champions from Chaparral of Scottsdale, it was the Wolves who captured their first state title with a 4-3 victory in the Division I finals. Kyle Palmer drove in the game-winning run in the eighth inning.
9. Archbishop McCarthy (Santaluces, Fla.) 28-4
It was another season and another Class 6A state championship for the Mavericks as they became the first team in state history to win four straight after a 5-2 win over Mosley of Lynn Haven in the finals. Their first of four state titles back in 2010 came in Class 4A.
10. Tomball (Tomball, Texas) 34-4
Robert Dugger was solid at the plate and on the mound as the Cougars earned their first-ever state championship with a 6-1 win over Moody of Corpus Christi in the UIL Class 4A finals. In the win, Dugger pitched a complete game and drove in four runs to earn MVP honors.
11. Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) 27-5
The Patriots won their fourth state title and first since 2008 with an 8-3 triumph over Durant of Plant City in the Class 8A state final. Tate Blackman and Mick Tinny capped a big four-run rally in the third inning with a two-run double and then an RBI single.
12. Elk Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.) 29-5
USC-bound Ryan “Rowdy” Tellez finished his career with a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section record 176 RBIs. The section champs, who have now won five such crowns in the last 11 years, also were led by four-year starter Dom Nunez, who just signed with the Colorado Rockies after being chosen in the sixth round of the recent MLB draft.
13. Coronado (Henderson, Nev.) 36-4
For the first time after seven straight years, Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas was not the state’s top team. The Cougars did the deed by beating the Gaels 7-4 in the deciding game. Chandler Blanchard blasted three home runs for Coronado in that game and was the winning pitcher.
14. Lexington (Lexington, S.C.) 28-5
Josh Reagan didn’t lose a game on the mound all season and that included the Wildcats’ season-finale as they defeated Blythewood 4-0 in the Class 4A state finals. It was their sixth state title in program history but first since 1999.
15. Elkhart Central (Elkhart, Ind.) 32-1
In a 1-0 showdown win over previously unbeaten Cathedral of Indianapolis in the Class 4A state title game, Tanner Tully did it all for the Blazers with a leadoff homer as a batter plus 13 strikeouts on the mound.
16. Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) 29-3-1
Phil Bickford, the first California high school player chosen in the MLB Draft and No. 10 overall, struck out 18 in his final game to lead the Lions to the CIFSS Division IV title. Their last loss was to No. 4 Harvard-Westlake.
17. Sun Prairie (Sun Prairie, Wisc.) 26-2
Even with top player Tony Butler missing for the season with an injury, the Cardinals followed up their 30-1 season from last year with a second straight Division I state title. They edged Stevens Point 5-4 in the final with the game-winning RBI in the eighth inning coming on a double by Conner Funnell.
18. Howell (St. Charles, Mo.) 32-5
The Vikings started and ended the season at the top of Missouri. They captured their second championship in three years with a 7-3 win over Christian Brothers of St. Louis in the Class 5A finals. Back in 2011, they went 32-3 and won the Class 4 championship.
19. Bay City Western (Auburn, Mich.) 42-2
The Warriors completed a dominant season in Michigan with a 1-0 win in the Division I championship against Brother Rice of Birmingham. Connor Foley pitched the complete-game shutout and got the only RBI he needed on a clutch single in the sixth inning by Brendan Harrison.
20. Clovis North (Fresno, Calif.) 27-6
The Broncos won their first CIF Central Section Division I championship and have successfully joined a powerhouse lineup of teams in their league that already included Clovis, Buchanan of Clovis and Clovis West of Fresno.
21. Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, Calif.) 30-5
Veteran coach Sam Blalock guided the Broncos to their seventh CIF San Diego Section title and his 11th overall as a coach. They’ll be strong next year, too, due to the return of big-time catcher Alex Jackson and other key players.
22. Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Ariz.) 30-7
After reaching the state championship game and losing three times in the last six years, the Saints finally got to celebrate after they knocked off defending champion Sunnyslope of Phoenix 2-1 in the Division II state finals. Their high national ranking also is due to going 3-2 in head-to-head matchups against Division I state champ Desert Mountain.
23. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) 24-3
If the Monarchs had not lost in their very first playoff game to Huntington Beach and had gone on to win the CIFSS Division I title, there’s little doubt they would have finished No. 1 in the nation. That’s because they earlier won the NHSI for the second straight year and also were champions of the first Boras Baseball Classic.
24. Jupiter (Jupiter, Fla.) 24-5
The Warriors stand out for posting a regular season win over No. 9 Archbishop McCarthy. Then in the Class 8A state playoffs, they knocked off perennial power Flanagan of Pembroke Pines before losing to eventual champion Lake Brantley.
25. Fayetteville (Fayetteville, Ark.) 27-2
Securing their sixth state championship in program history, the Bulldogs defeated Rogers 6-3 in the Class 7A finals.
26. Cranford (Cranford, N.J.) 25-1
The Star-Ledger’s No. 1 team from New Jersey lost just once all season and that loss didn’t come at the end as the Cougars defeated Burlington Township of Burlington 4-2 in the Group 3 state finals. The Cougars have won three state championships in the last four years.
27. Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.) 29-1
It’s fairly certain that the Fighting Irish would have finished in the top 10 or higher if they had won the Class 4A state final and were 30-0. Sophomore phenom pitcher Ashe Russell still pitched well in the 1-0 defeat and should be a national player to watch next season.
28. Flora (Columbia, S.C.) 26-6
Make it back-to-back state championships for the Falcons as they defeated Airport of West Columbia 11-3 in the Class 3A state finals. They have now won four state championships in program history with the others coming in 2007 and 2001.
29. Fort Bend Dulles (Sugar Land, Texas) 32-8
A 3-0 win over Arlington Martin pushed the Vikings into the Division I state final, but their quest then ended in a loss to No. 6 The Woodlands.
30. Milton (Milton, Ga.) 31-9-1
It took all three games and extra innings in the final, but the Eagles defeated Roswell 2-1 for the AAAAAA state championship. It ended a stretch that had seen them not win a state title since 2004. Nine losses is a lot for a top 30 team, but Georgia baseball in general is on the rise and Milton was the state’s best in 2013.
31. Mt. Carmel (Chicago, Ill.) 34-8
The Mt. Carmel football program had already won the Class 8A championship earlier this season, but for the first time in school history the Caravan are baseball state champions. They defeated Libertyville 2-1 in the Class 4A championship game. According to the Illinois High School Association, it is just the third time in state history that a school has won a title in both sports.
32. O’Connor (Phoenix, Ariz.) 29-4
Coach Jeff Baumgartner’s squad was arguably the best in Arizona in the regular season. Although the schedule was strong, including a win over national power Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, the Eagles still fell victim to the upset in the Division I state playoffs with a 4-3 loss to Desert Vista of Phoenix.
33. Blue Valley West (Stilwater, Kan.) 26-3
The Jaguars defeated Olathe South 8-0 to capture the KSHSAA Class 6A state championship.
34. Mosley (Lynn Haven, Fla.) 28-4
The Dolphins knocked off Pace and Tampa King on their way to the Class 6A state finals, but were unable to stop the streak of state championships won by Archbishop McCarthy in a 5-2 loss.
35. Pleasure Ridge Park (Louisville, Ky.) 40-7
Led by the winningest coach in state history, Bill Miller, who has 1,115 wins, the Panthers defeated Mercer County of Harrodsburg 3-2 in extra innings to claim the KHSAA state tournament championship. Miller has now coached his team to five state titles, which reportedly ties him for a state record.
36. Campolindo (Moraga, Calif.) 21-6-1
The Cougars made it four straight titles in the CIF North Coast Section Division II playoffs. They also played perhaps their strongest preseason schedule, which included a win over Serra of San Mateo.
37. ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) 21-5
With two runs in the top of the seventh inning, the Grizzlies defeated Rocky Mountain of Fort Collins 2-1 for Class 5A state championship.
38. Seaman (Topeka, Kan.) 23-2
For the sixth time in 10 years, the Vikings ended the season with a state championship victory, this time by a 10-3 final over Carroll of Wichita. In his 15th season at the school, head coach Steve Bushnell has now led the Vikings to seven state titles.
39. Granada (Livermore, Calif.) 24-2
Heading into the CIF North Coast Section Class 4A semifinals, the Matadors were No. 1 in California and had a chance to stamp themselves as one of the best in NCS history. They lost, though, to league rival Amador Valley of Pleasanton, a team they had beaten twice earlier in the season.
40. Redan (Stone Mountain, Ga.) 30-7
With two wins over Marist of Atlanta, the Raiders swept the Class AAAA state championship series for their first title in program history after never reaching the state championship series before.
41. Hanover (Mechanicsburg, Va.) 24-4
Virginia-bound junior pitcher Derek Casey had 10 strikeouts as the Hawks picked up a 2-1 win over Great Bridge of Chesapeake in the Group AAA state championship game.
42. Serra (Gardena, Calif.) 27-5
Dominic Smith, the No. 11 pick overall in the first round of the recent MLB Draft, led the Cavaliers to their first CIFSS Division III championship. They also ended the season on a 17-game win streak.
43. Moody (Corpus Christi, Texas) 32-7-1
The Trojans once again were one of the best in Texas and lost in the Class 4A state final to No. 10 Tomball.
44. St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio) 29-7
After an 0-2 start, the Wildcats played consistently well, then got hot in the playoffs and made it to the Division I state final before losing to No. 3 Archbishop Moeller.
45. Pope (Marietta, Ga.) 28-10
Several Georgia Class AAAAA squads won notable games against teams from other states, which helps the Greyhounds get into the FAB 50 despite 10 losses. They also swept the Class AAAAA championship series with two wins over Greenbrier of Evans.
46. Carl Albert (Midwest City, Okla.) 34-3
For the second year in a row it was the Titans who defeated Claremore in the Class 5A state championship. They were victorious this season 4-2. They became the first school to repeat as 5A state champions since 1992 and 1993.
47. Magnolia Heights (Senatobia, Miss.) 38-0
A difficult to decipher schedule prevents this team from being higher in the FAB 50, but it’s clear that the Chiefs should be considered No. 1 in Mississippi due to a head-to-head win over Class 6A state champ Southaven.
48. Mason (Mason, Ohio) 24-1
The Comets were streaking along at 24-0 and perhaps gunning toward a showdown with Archbishop Moeller in the Division I state playoffs, but then they lost 6-1 to Northmont of Clayton and the season was over.
49. Gloucester Catholic (Gloucester City, N.J.) 29-5
With Maryland-bound pitcher Mike Shawaryn on the mound, the Rams became the second team in state history to win four straight state titles after they defeated Seton Hall Prep 2-0 in the NJSIAA Non-Public A championship game. They have now won a state-best 17 state baseball titles and their four straight championships ties the state record.
50. Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) 27-9
The reason that Florida Class 5A champ Ponte Vedra isn’t ranked is because of a loss to Columbus of Georgia, which is a team that lost to Parkview. The Panthers also did well in their own state playoff division and were eliminated by eventual champion and FAB 50-ranked Milton. They even got one win against Milton in the best-of-three series.
MORE HONORABLE MENTION TEAMS (Alphabetical)
American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) 25-3
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) 33-9-1
Bridgewater-Raynham (Bridgewater, Mass.) 21-5
Brother Rice (Birmingham, Mich.) 31-8-1
Collierville (Collierville, Tenn.) 34-12
Eastern (Vorhees, N.J.) 29-4
Edgewood Academy (Elmore, Ala.) 44-3
Farragut (Knoxville, Tenn.) 35-9
Fountain Valley (Fountain Valley, Calif.) 24-5
Martin (Arlington, Texas) 35-8-1
Norman North (Norman, Okla.) 26-9
Ponte Vedra (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) 23-11
Rio Rancho (Albuquerque, N.M.) 23-8
Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins, Colo.) 21-4
Serra (San Mateo, Calif.) 27-7
Sheldon (Eugene, Ore.) 22-5
Skyview (Vancouver, Wash.) 18-6
South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, N.C.) 27-8
Sunnyslope (Phoenix, Ariz.) 28-5
Note: Paul Muyskens and Doug Huff contributed to this report.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He also is a national editor for Student Sports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @CalHiSports