Five teams to watch
Bishop Fenwick: The Crusaders finished 10-10 last spring, but made a magical run to the Division 3 North semifinals for the third straight season. Fenwick graduated pitcher Kevin Church (1.85 ERA), but the Crusaders always reload.
Danvers: While Peabody controlled the Northeast Conference North, the Falcons dominated the South with a 15-6 record. Dan Connors, A.J. Couto, Ray Arocho, and Scott Hovey are all returning.
Lowell: The Red Raiders captured the D1 North crown last season, and coach Dan Graham has led them to three straight Merrimack Valley Conference titles. Last season, senior pitcher Matt Tulley captured his third player of the year award. Who will replace him?
North Reading: The 22-4 Hornets captured the Division 3 state title last season. It won’t take long for legendary coach Frank Carey to notch his 700th win. He enters his 48th season with a dazzling 697-266 record.
St. John’s Prep: The Eagles return a strong core from last season’s squad, which finished 15-5 and earned a three seed in the Division 1 North tournament. Led by Brandon Bingel, the Eagles are a serious threat in the ever-competitive Catholic Conference.
Five players to watch
, St. John’s Prep: Bingel captured Catholic Conference MVP honors after hitting .418 with five home runs and 25 RBIs. The shortstop can pitch as well, and was 5-2 last season.
, Lynn English: The 6-foot-4 left-hander garnered plenty of attention last season after throwing a no-hitter to start the season. In August, he committed to Vanderbilt. He had a 2.19 ERA last spring, and also hit .394 with 21 RBIs.
, Danvers: After helping the Falcons to a second-straight D3 basketball state championship, can Connors help the Falcons do the same on the diamond? Last season, he hit .395 with 18 RBIs.
, North Reading: As a sophomore, the center fielder knocked in 25 runs for the Hornets, and hit .375 in the state tournament. He also scored 17 runs, and drove in two runs in the team’s 8-4 state championship win against Mt. Everett.
, Beverly: Last season, the Panthers entered the Division 2 North tournament as the five seed and advanced to the finals. Rogers was a big part of that run, tossing four straight shutouts toward the end of the season. He finished with a 1.75 ERA.