Coach: Mark Winebrunner
Last season: 23-0, ranked No. 1
Postseason: Class 4A state champion
Outlook: Coming off conference, region and state titles, the Owls have a new coach. But a strong defense and six starting pitchers, led by Chad Diehl (7-0, 3.65 ERA), create expectations for a repeat.
2. Archbishop Spalding
Coach: Jeff Palumbo
Last season: 28-5, No. 2
Postseason: MIAA A Conference champion
Outlook: With four preseason All-State seniors — pitcher Austin Clark (committed to La Salle), outfielder Jamal Clarke (.450 batting average), first baseman Nick Freeberger (.880 slugging percentage) and shortstop Sean Miller (.455 batting) — the Cavaliers are fearsome.
3. Calvert Hall
Coach: Lou Eckerl
Last season: 28-9, No. 3
Postseason: MIAA A Conference runner-up
Outlook: The Cardinals' core field players and complete pitching staff return. Led by their top hitter, junior catcher Alex Murphy (.417), and No. 1 pitcher senior Garrett Walther (6-2, 4.88 ERA), they are loaded and will test themselves with a tough schedule.
4. Severna Park
Coach: Bob Felts
Last season: 20-6, No. 4
Postseason: Class 4A state runner-up
Outlook: A longtime assistant, Felts stepped in after the death of Jim McCandless in January. Felts says the Falcons will play in McCandless' honor, and they come in with strong pitching and a competitive lineup led by senior catcher Brandon Cavil (.393).
5. North Harford
Coach: Tim Larrimore
Last season: 16-5, No. 8
Postseason: Class 3A state semifinalist
Outlook: Seven starters return, including senior pitcher Kevin Mooney (7-1, 0.75 ERA), an All-Metro selection signed by Maryland, and senior pitcher-shortstop Cody Brittain (7-2, 1.73 ERA; .449 batting, 27 RBIs). Previously a designated hitter, senior Jon Hammer (.313) will start at catcher.
Coach: Larry Sheets
Last season: 17-15, unranked
Outlook: The Greyhounds had a 2011 to forget, so a positive outlook and limiting mistakes are key. But Gilman has four quality pitchers and a lineup anchored by first baseman-pitcher Ryan Ripken (.353), outfielder-pitcher Gavin Sheets (.366), outfielder-pitcher Matt Tilley (.355) and shortstop Tom O'Neill (.295).
Coach: Jon Dupski
Last season: 19-3, No. 5
Postseason: Class 3A East regional finalist
Outlook: The Raiders' pitching corps was hit by graduation, but senior Josh Martin (6-0, 2.00 ERA; .426 batting average) returns. Atholton will depend on defense but get offensive help from junior Paul Burmester (.382) and sophomore Brady Acker (.333, 18 stolen bases).
Coach: AJ Bolling
Last season: 12-7, unranked
Postseason: Class 3A East regional quarterfinalist
Outlook: Powerhouse senior pitchers Jon Powell and Brandon O'Malley bring heat. Senior TJ Johns (.375) and juniors Eric Grantland and Matt Bougourd will contribute at the plate for a team that returns 10 players from last year.
9. Eastern Tech
Coach: Spike McElfish
Last season: 11-6, unranked
Postseason: Class 2A North regional semifinalist
Outlook: A junior-dominated team with a returning lineup intact, the Mavericks depend on two seniors for leadership: right fielder Jimmy Szamski (.480) and first baseman-pitcher Chris Hook (6-1, 2.28 ERA).
10. South River
Coach: Ken Dunn
Last Season: 18-5, No. 13
Postseason: Class 4A East regional finalist
Outlook: Dunn sees his team transitioning from youth to experience. Seven starters return, and the coach calls them "big, athletic and baseball smart." The key will be building on the performance of sophomore pitcher Scott Mitchell (7-3).
11. Patterson Mill
Coach: Matt Roseland
Last season: 20-5, No. 7
Postseason: Class 1A state finalist
Outlook: The Huskies move up to the Chesapeake Division, which means facing tougher foes. But No. 1 pitcher and four-year-starter Matt Golczewski (6-4, 3.05 ERA) returns, as do first baseman Alex Abild and outfielder Aaron Childs (.400, 23 RBIs).
Coach: Erik Barnes
Last season: 13-7, unranked
Postseason: Class 2A West regional quarterfinalist
Outlook: The Lions' pitching staff looks deeper, and if it stays healthy, Liberty could roar. Seven veterans return, including shortstop-pitcher Andrew Massey (.406, 20 RBIs; 2.60 ERA). Barnes said his team has a "fantastic work ethic and solid mindset."
13. C. Milton Wright
Coach: Joe Stetka
Last season: 17-5, No. 12
Postseason: Class 3A North regional finalist
Outlook: The new coach has identified speed, pop at the plate and strong up-the-middle defense as strengths. The Mustangs will lean on senior pitchers Stephen Rappe and Ryan Katelan, center fielder Nick Testa and pitcher-outfielder Matt Kline.
Coach: Adam Leader
Last season: 21-1, No. 6
Postseason: Class 3A East regional semfinalist
Outlook: The Gators don't expect a repeat of last season's undefeated run through the regular season. But with preseason All-State pitcher Lee Lawler (7-2, 0.43 ERA) back, they have an anchor. Third baseman Danny Klein and outfielders Bryan Davidson and Luke Schuster also return.
Coach: Travis Blackston
Last Season: 17-1, No. 15
Postseason: Class 1A state semifinalist
Outlook: The Poets face a challenging season as they move to Division I in Baltimore City. But five starters return, including seniors Terrence Williams (.553) and Charles Brown (.459) and junior pitcher Eddie Bennett (6-2, 2.10ERA). Pitching will be key.
OTHERS CONSIDERED: Arundel (13-12), Chesapeake-AA (18-3, No. 14), Dulaney (14-5), Fallston (15-5, No. 11), Loyola (16-16), Manchester Valley (12-8), Marriotts Ridge (11-7), Perry Hall (13-4)Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times