Huntington Beach, the defending Southern Section Division 1 champion, gets the nod as the No. 1 team in The Times' preseason top 25 prep baseball rankings.
The season moves into high gear on Saturday when Southern Section teams begin games.
Pitching depth will be key again, especially if rainouts occur in March or April, forcing teams to play three games a week. Pitching depth will come into play for teams in the Trinity and Mission leagues, which are playing three league games a week this season.
1. HUNTINGTON BEACH. Defending Division 1 champions loaded with talent.
2. ORANGE LUTHERAN. Best pitching staff in Trinity League.
3. JSERRA. Chase Strumpf, Brady Shockey, Royce Lewis are impressive trio.
4. SOUTH HILLS. Strong infield and pitching depth.
5. CHATSWORTH. Tommy Palomera, Josh Garcia lead top pitching duo.
6. DAMIEN. Coach Andy Nieto is ready to make title run.
7. HARVARD-WESTLAKE. Top hitters in Jake Suddleson and Cameron Deere.
8. EL CAMINO REAL. Return City Section co-MVPs Jeremy Polon and Eric Yang.
9. VISTA MURRIETA. The Moberg brothers, Jake and Jack, lead Broncos.
10. OAKS CHRISTIAN. Stanford-bound P Carson Rudd leads seven returning starters.
11. CORONA SANTIAGO. Sophomore Brice Turang is tough out.
12. SANTA MARGARITA. Good combination of youth and experience.
13. MOORPARK. Pitching depth will be key.
14. BECKMAN. Sophomore Matt McLain was league MVP as a freshman.
15. MATER DEI. Improved hitting should make Monarchs dangerous.
16. JW NORTH. Infield is very good, led by Shane Martinez.
17. MIRA COSTA. Trevor Franklin and Will Proctor can compete with best.
18. LONG BEACH MILLIKAN. Can win the always competitive Moore League.
19 SHERMAN OAKS NOTRE DAME. Hunter Greene is two-way standout.
20. ALEMANY. Beware of freshman shortstop Caden Miller.
21. SIMI VALLEY. Pitching and OF Cal Hodgins should carry Pioneers.
22. BONITA. Seven starters return, led by pitcher A.J. Woodall.
23. LOS ALAMITOS. Strong performance in winter ball, led by Kyle Mora.
24. DANA HILLS. Junior pitcher Hans Crouse is one of the best.
25. LOYOLA. Lots of pitching depth, led by Holden Groff.