Broward Playoff Preview
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That seemed to be the theme of the 2018 baseball season here in Broward County. With all the regular season games in the books, it is time to get prepared for what may happen this week in the district playoffs. Which favorites have the best shot at a state title? Will there be a Cinderella team that crashes the dance? We have all the answers here in our district playoff preview. Enjoy!
1. Flanagan 21-1
2. Cypress Bay 11-6-1
3. West Broward 18-4
4. Everglades 4-12
It would be a bit crazy to go against a team with one loss on the season, so the obvious choice to come out of this district is Flanagan. The Falcons have quietly been the most consistent team in the county in 2018. It has been eight years since Flanagan has been to states, but this team has all the making to get there. Strong pitching, a solid defense, and an offense that has been among the county’s best has been on display all year. Assuming nothing changes in the next couple weeks, this team has as good a chance as any to punch their ticket to Fort Myers.
The real drama in the district is whether Cypress Bay or West Broward will join Flanagan in regionals. The Lightning hold the upper hand, having beaten the Bobcats twice during the regular season to earn the two seed. The two losses, however, are two of only four losses for West Broward on the year. After beating Nova in the last week of the regular season, the Bobcats have served notice that they have no intentions of catching the hat trick of losses to the Lightning this week.
1. Douglas 15-6
2. Taravella 15-8
3. Monarch 10-12
4. Coral Springs 4-16
5. Deerfield Beach 3-17
Most of the focus this season has rightly so been on the Douglas baseball program. After dealing with one of the worst school tragedies in US history, the Eagles have persevered better than anyone could have expected. After struggling early, Douglas has played well in the second half of the season, winning 14 of their last 17 games. Their first round match-up with either Coral Springs or Deerfield should provide little in the way of drama, which would put the Eagles in line for a regional appearance.
It is hard to call a team that went 15-8 a dark horse, but that is exactly where Taravella finds themselves heading into the playoffs. With all of their wins this season, it was a 1-0 loss on Thursday night against Flanagan that may have sent the strongest message to playoff foes. Taravella faced the Falcons ace, and showed they will be no easy out. If they handle their business against Monarch in the opening round, Taravella may be a team to watch in the regional round.
1. Nova 18-3
2. Cooper City 6-14
3. McArthur 5-11
4. Hollywood Hills 3-9
As the team coming off a state appearance, and the only team in the district with a winning record, not many are expecting any fireworks in 8A-15. The Titans easily swept their district games, and have only three losses on the year. They again have their ace Trace Moore ready for a deep playoff run. The road to states will not be easy for the Titans, as both Westland Hialeah and Mater Academy are formidable opponents in regionals.
Should Nova get through those teams, a most likely rematch with St. Thomas could be lurking in the regional final. The Titans and Raiders played one of the most legendary playoff games in recent history last year, a 12-inning 4-3 Nova win. St. Thomas has already gotten their revenge in the regular season, beating Nova 5-2, but both teams know that game will be of little consequence should they meet up again in the regional championship.
As for the rest of the district, despite losing records, either Cooper City or McArthur will earn a regional appearance. While neither team is expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, just getting out of the district and into regionals could mark a turning point in the right direction for upcoming seasons for the winner.
1. Spanish River 18-6
2. Coral Glades 12-9
3. Atlantic 4-17
This would be one of the most predictable outcomes in the district playoffs if it was not for Atlantic’s surreal ability to suddenly come alive at playoff time. The Eagles have made some unexpected runs the past few years, and have advanced to states, so they are no stranger to rising at this time of year. This season, however, the deck is stacked against Atlantic, as they have lost all four games to Coral Glades and Spanish River.
Coral Glades is another team that has rode some playoff momentum, knocking St. Thomas out of regionals just two seasons ago. Manager Joe Franco has also done his share of pulling playoff upsets while at Monarch, so should the Jaguars get by Atlantic in the district semifinals, they could be a team to watch heading into regionals.
The real story in this district is Spanish River. The Sharks are having their best season ever under longtime Manager Bill Harvey. The team has already surpassed their best win total with 18, and by virtue of being the top seed in a three team district, they will advance to regionals for the first time ever.
Don’t expect Spanish River’s magical season to end there. If they can win the district title, they would host the second seed from 8A-14, giving them a legitimate shot to be playing for a regional title a few weeks from now.
1. Pembroke Pines Charter 15-9
2. South Broward 12-11-1
3. Northeast 10-12
4. Boyd Anderson 3-10
The Pines Charter Jaguars find themselves in a familiar position, heading into the district playoffs as the top seed. Pines Charter started slow, before catching fire mid-season, then losing a couple games down the stretch. Despite the uneven results, the Jaguars should find themselves in the thick of the 7A regional race after the district tournament.
South Broward has also been up and down in 2018, and they face a game which has one of the biggest upset-minded teams in the playoffs as their opponent.
Northeast, led by second-year Manager Mike Goulette, have played two tight games with the Bulldogs, losing 4-3 and 2-1. In each game, the Hurricanes believe they left a few plays on the field that could have changed the outcome. That theory will be tested Tuesday night. Whichever team survives, will have the task of facing Pines Charter in the district final, and then a tough Miami team in regionals.
1. American Heritage 21-3
2. Archbishop McCarthy 14-10-1
3. Stranahan 9-11
This is the one district in the county where the tide seems to have shifted. The Mavericks, after having one of the best runs of any program in Florida history, have responded well in their first season under new leadership. Manager Aaron Vorachek has made the transition from the old regime smooth, and at times the team has shown flashes of brilliance. They should have little trouble advancing to regionals, facing a team in Stranahan that they handled 12-1 earlier this year.
The problem for the Mavericks comes in the district final. American Heritage has played second fiddle to McCarthy in recent years, but has the feel of a team that is looking to take control for years to come of not only this district, but the region as well. Heritage has talent all over the field, but also has something that Manager Bruce Aven believes has been missing. A confidence that they are the top team, and leadership that can get the Patriots through tough spots in big games.
At 21-3, Heritage is one of the biggest favorites going into the playoffs, and is expected by many to make an appearance in Fort Myers when the regional dust settles.
1. Pompano Beach 17-6
2. Cardinal Gibbons 15-10
3. North Broward Prep 17-8
4. Coral Springs Charter 11-11-1
5. Pine Crest 10-15
6. Somerset Academy 12-13
Ok, buckle your seat belts. So the sixth seed, Somerset, has already beaten the top seed, Pompano. So has fifth-seeded Pine Crest. The four seed CS Charter, has defeated second-seeded Gibbons. The third-seed, North Broward Prep, has possibly the best collection of talent, and have played well of late.
Second-seeded Gibbons has the district leader in strikeouts, and one of the top sophomores in the county, heading up their rotation. And last but not least, top seed Pompano has last year’s HSBN Player of the Year in Trevor Kniskern, a player who led the Tornadoes to the state final four as a junior.
So. If anyone can make sense out of any of that, and can predict who will come out of this district, they belong in Vegas.
Where does that leave 5A-14?
The logical prediction would be that the top two seeds have a big advantage not having to throw their aces in district quarterfinal games. Both Pompano and Gibbons will have their horses on the mound in the semifinals, making a rematch of last year’s district title a strong possibility.
Does that mean both teams will advance? Of course not. This district has provided some of the biggest upsets in district playoff play over the past five years, and this year should be no different. A betting man always has the option to take the field, and in this district, the field looks like a pretty good choice.
1. Chaminade-Madonna 17-7
2. Westminster Academy 16-7
3. Hialeah Educational 14-10
4. Calvary Christian 10-14
5. Miami Country Day 11-10
6. SLAM 6-14
Talk about one of the most unlucky draws in recent playoff history. Chaminade-Madonna, which had one of their best seasons in recent memory, earned the top seed in the district. Westminster Academy finished their season as strong as anyone in the district, and secured the two seed.
So here is where this district gets tricky, and benefits the second seed.
Calvary Christian, the most talented team in the district, and a team that spend half the year at #1 in the HSBN Broward Power Rankings, ended up a four seed after having to forfeit previously won games, dropping them from first and undefeated in district play, to fourth.
The result of that benefits second-seeded Westminster, who will avoid Calvary in the district semifinals.
There is no guarantee that the Lions will advance, but having to face either Hialeah Educational or SLAM, teams Westminster combined to beat 22-1 makes for an easier path to regional play.
Chaminade, meanwhile, will face the winner of the Calvary, Miami Country Game match-up. If Chaminade can advance to regionals, they would have earned it.
Calvary, despite all the tribulations of the season, remains the team to beat, not only in the district, but in the 4A region. If the Eagles were to advance to states, it would be a record-setting third straight appearance.
1. Sagemont 15-10
2. Archbishop Carroll 12-7
3. Marathon 6-14
4. Doctors Charter 4-19
5. Dade Christian 1-12
3A is one of those regions in South Florida that is one of the most navigable to advance to states. Sagemont and Archbishop Carroll have been the class of this district for several years. The Bulldogs are coming off a state appearance, and the Lions are hungry for their first shot at the state title.
Doctors Charter has fared as well as can be expected in their first year in district play. While they may not yet be ready to compete for the district championship, the Hawks have made significant strides, and are seeking their first ever district playoff win when they face Dade Christian on Monday.
With only two games to win after the district tournament, both Archbishop Carroll and Sagemont are dreaming big.
1. John Carroll 15-7
2. Berean Christian 15-4
3. Somerset Canyons 12-12-1
4. Jupiter Christian 14-5
5. Highlands Christian 7-9
6. Coral Springs Christian 9-12
The district records in 3A-7 can be thrown out as this figures to be one of the most competitive district battles in South Florida. The top seeded Rams appear to be the class of the district, and with a legitimate ace at the top of their rotation, John Carroll is looking to advance to states for the second time in the past three years.
Berean Christian is having their best season in the history of the program, and they also have visions of heading to the state title. The Bulldogs have played some of the most competitive, low scoring games in district play, and that doesn’t figure to change this week.
The bottom four teams in the district are all capable of coming up big and advancing to regionals. Somerset has a .500 record, and has beaten enough quality teams to make them a threat. Manager John Drouin has won a state title, so he knows what buttons to push come playoff time.
Jupiter Christian, Highlands Christian, and Coral Springs Christian are all teams with aces that can carry their teams to a district title.
No other district in the area has the potential to provide excitement and upsets this week, with any of the six teams capable of taking home a district title.