BSAL baseball preview

This year’s Bay Shore Athletic League baseball perhaps is best described as a three-tier league. And only a minimal difference exists between the first two tiers.

The only thing definite about BSAL baseball this season is that weakest teams are Kennedy and St. Elizabeth. The other seven teams can be competitive. Depending which BSAL coach one talks to, the league shapes up as a three- or four-team race. But which teams?

St. Mary’s has many returning players and some promising newcomers. The Panthers have a year’s more experience than they did in 2005, when they went 11-5 in league. Coaches around the league seem impressed with the Panthers, and St. Mary’s coach Andy Shimabukuru expressed much confidence. Call it a hunch, call it a gut feeling, but I picked the Panthers to finish first in the league.

Still, Albany is talent-laden, too. The Cougars surely should vie for the top spot. St. Mary’s and Albany should finish 1-2 in the league. Given their talent and depth, the Cougars are the team most likely to scuttle the above prediction as to which team will take first place.

Among the rest, John Swett should be improved with the transfer of 2005 league MVP Jonathan Van Looy from Salesian. But Van Looy can’t pitch every game.

Salesian loses Van Looy as well as the graduated Jordan Jackson. So pitching is a concern for the Chieftains. But look for the defending league champions to compete for another league title.

Piedmont has pitching depth. But hitting and defense are concerns. Teams that are strong on pitching but weaker on hitting often can thrive. But only prayers and miracles (such as a ton of hitting combined with a staff of strikeout pitchers) can save a team with suspect defense.

St. Joseph and St. Patrick-St. Vincent make up the remainder of the top seven teams.

This is just one man’s opinion of 2006 BSAL baseball. Perhaps you can share yours.