Yes, it’s that time again. I make predictions about which baseball teams will win each league in Section 1. You take note and make sure to let me know where I went wrong in a few months.
There’s only a few minor changes in the league alignments this season, but does that mean the same teams will come out on top?
LEAGUE I-A — Arlington, Carmel, John Jay-EF, Ketcham, Mahopac
Predicted champ — Arlington
Here’s the deal— Ketcham has won nine of the last 15 league titles, including an outright win last season. But the Indians split in two games with Arlington, which seems to have more talent coming back (on paper). The Admirals finished the season strong under then-rookie coach Darrell Flynn, and I’d look for them to build on that by taking what is arguably the toughest league in Section 1.
LEAGUE I-B — Beacon, Hen Hud, Lakeland, Ossining, Panas
Predicted champ — Beacon
Here’s the deal — In all likelihood, I think this comes down to Beacon and Lakeland, with Ossining representing a dark horse. In the end, I’m giving the Bulldogs a slight edge because of their pitching depth with Jason Antalek, Brendon Malouf and Alex Callaway. Antalek is committed to Iona and Malouf will be heading to LIU-Brooklyn.
LEAGUE I-C — Arlington B, Haldane, Lourdes, North Salem, Pawling, Peekskill, Putnam Valley
Predicted champ — North Salem
Here’s the deal — Lourdes and Peekskill are new additions here and Put Valley is the defending champ, but I look at Arlington B and North Salem as the possible front-runners. It’s a tough call, but the Tigers, who came very close to the title last season, have lots of returners and a true ace in Danny Capra.
LEAGUE I-D — Brewster, Fox Lane, Horace Greeley, John Jay, Somers, Yorktown
Predicted champ — Horace Greeley
Here’s the deal — You could make a case for John Jay or even Yorktown as a contender here, but I think the top two in this league are Fox Lane and Greeley. The Foxes have proven that they’re a threat every year, and 2016 will be no different. But the Quakers are a program on the rise after a strong 2015 campaign, which included a league title. They’re the pick.
LEAGUE II-A — Mamaroneck, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, White Plains
Predicted champ — Mamaroneck
Here’s the deal — White Plains and Scarsdale should be much-improved, but it would be difficult to bet against the defending state champs. Mamaroneck has holes to fill, but the Tigers have owned this league for the last 10 years.
LEAGUE II-B — Clarkstown North, Clarkstown South, East Ramapo, North Rockland, Suffern
Predicted champ — North Rockland
Here’s the deal — Last season, Clarkstown South won its first league title outright since 1997. But as you may know, I’m pretty high on North Rockland this season. The Red Raiders are loaded with pitching and return six of nine from their starting lineup.
LEAGUE II-C — Albertus Magnus, Nanuet, Nyack, Pearl River, Tappan Zee
Predicted champ — Nyack
Here’s the deal — This was about as tight of a race as there was in Section 1 last year. Heading into the final days of the season, all five teams were alive for the title. Magnus won it thanks to a clutch, game-tying homer from eventual Rockland player of the year Christian Conklin, which propelled the Falcons to a come-from-behind win over TZ in the season finale. Once again, all five teams look evenly-matched. But while Magnus took some big hits to graduation, Nyack will be senior-laden with some pitching depth to boot. I’m taking the Indians by a hair.
LEAGUE II-D — Byram Hills, Eastchester, Harrison, Pelham, Port Chester, Rye
Predicted champ — Byram
Here’s the deal — This one ranks right up there with the toughest leagues in the section. Byram is the defending Class A state champ after beating Rye in the Section 1 final, but it was the Garnets who captured the league title last season. Eastchester and Harrison are threats, but the expectation is that it will once again come down to Byram and Rye. I think the Bobcats have a bit more pitching depth.
LEAGUE II-E — Early College, Gorton, Lincoln, Riverside, Saunders, Yonkers
Predicted champ — Lincoln
Here’s the deal — After years in which Yonkers dominated this league, it’s grown to be much more competitive. Lincoln had a magical season in 2015, which including a win over Yonkers for the city championship and a trip to the Class A semifinals. I think the Lancers are here to stay.
LEAGUE III-A — Briarcliff, Croton-Harmon, Pleasantville, Valhalla, Westlake
Predicted champ — Valhalla
Here’s the deal — The winner of this league will emerge as the favorite for the Class B title. Croton has made huge strides in recent years, Pleasantville has the pitching and Westlake is a team I’ve been hearing good things about. But ultimately, I think it’ll be decided between Valhalla and Briarcliff, who begin the season ranked 1-2 in Class B. The Bears have more offensive firepower, but I don’t know if any team in the league can match the Vikings’ 1-2 pitching punch of Steven Franzese and Jason Wolfthal.
LEAGUE III-B — Ardsley, Bronxville, Edgemont, Irvington, Sleepy Hollow
Predicted champ — Sleepy Hollow
Here’s the deal — Traditionally, this league comes down to Ardsley and Sleepy Hollow, and that’s a good bet for how it will go this year. The Panthers won it last year, but the Horsemen may have more key pieces coming back.
LEAGUE III-C — Blind Brook, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings, Keio, Rye Neck
Predicted champ — Keio
Here’s the deal — Keio is the reigning champ after coming oh-so-close to winning it all in Class B last season, but the Unicorns did lose some key parts to graduation. Blind Brook and Dobbs Ferry seem poised to challenge them. I think it will be a very close race, but it’s difficult to overlook Keio’s consistency. The Unicorns are well-coached and rarely beat themselves.
LEAGUE III-D — Hamilton, Palisades Prep, Solomon Schechter, Tuckahoe, Woodlands, YMA
Predicted champ — Tuckahoe
Here’s the deal — No disrespect to the other teams in this league, but this is one of the easier choices to make. Tuckahoe is the defending Class C champ and is bringing back a very solid roster, led by senior ace Austin Pope.