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2017 HS baseball preview: Teams to watch





Teams listed with their final 2016 record.

Division 1

St. John’s Prep (20-8) — After being denied by Braintree in the Division 1A final each of the past two years, the Eagles are determined to make this their year. Holy Cross recruit Andrew Selima and junior Mike Yarin (verbal commitment to UConn) headline a high-powered offense in Danvers.

Braintree (19-6) — Winners of back-to-back Division 1A titles, the Wamps gun for a three-peat. Senior shortstop Jack Andrews fuels the attack and is slotted as the No. 2 starter.

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BC High (17-6) — Junior ace Mike Vasil of Wellesley, a University of Virginia commit, leads a strong pitching staff.

Division 2

Plymouth North (16-6) — After qualifying for the Division 1A tourney last spring, the Blue Eagles must retool after the graduation of 17 seniors. North will start sophomores at catcher, second base, and shortstop, but coach Dwayne Follette sees potential. “If the young kids play to their abilities, we’ll be a very good team by the end of the year,” he said.

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Dighton-Rehoboth (21-3) — The reigning EMass Division 2 champions have a tough act to follow. The graduation of Joey Rogers (UMass-Boston) leaves a void. But the return of bats Steve Silvia (junior outfielder) and Drew Leblanc (senior third baseman) make D-R dangerous.

Danvers (22-3) — Senior pitcher Dean Borders will be the focal point following a nine-win season that was punctuated by a 1.30 earned run average. Senior catcher Matt Andreas looms in the middle of the lineup.

Division 3

Austin Prep (19-4) —Junior catcher Peter Burns, a Boston College commit, anchors a young, well-rounded lineup. “We have a lot of returning position players with a lot of experience and a lot of new pitchers on the mound,” said coach Steve Busby. “I think our defense will be very good and I think we’ll score a lot of runs.”

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North Reading (16-6) — The reigning Division 3 North champs will be led by senior catcher John Merullo and senior pitcher Mike McCauley
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East Bridgewater (16-7) — The Vikings graduated just one player from a squad that advanced to the Division 3 state semifinals and 13 seniors are hungry for more. Sophomore Liam LeVangie, who quarterbacked the football team to a Super Bowl title last fall, projects to be the ace of the pitching staff.

Division 4

St. John Paul II (25-1) — The Lions capped a one-loss campaign last season with their third straight state title. Five captains have graduated, but SJP II has turned over the roster before and won.

Mashpee (22-4) — The Falcons have been eliminated in the Division 4 South final each of the last two seasons by St. John Paul II. Star senior Alex Morry leads an experienced Mashpee squad.

Lowell Catholic (17-7) — Seniors Thomas Desmond and Zach Gitschier power a Crusader squad coming off a run to the state semifinals against St. John Paul II last June.

James Duffy can be reached at james.duffy@globe.com.


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