With the season well under way parity seems to be the theme in the Shore Conference. It is my opinion that this year’s shore conference tournament is going to be one of the best in years.
I say this because while I feel there are three clear favorites to advance to the finals in Jackson Memorial, Manalapan and Toms River South.
They by far are the three teams that are on another level as a team and this separates them from the rest of the teams.
That being said there are 6 other teams that have an ace pitcher that can beat anyone on a given day as long as those top 3 teams do not have their number one on the mound. If one of those 6 pitchers is not on the mound that day they are just another one of a field of 15 other teams excluding my top 3 that can beat each other by the flip of a coin.
I have noticed such an improvement over the past few years with player’s approaches at the plate. Off season training like we provide as well as a host of others have them prepared early in the season.
I think another big reason is the high level of competition these players are playing against in the summer and fall with travel baseball. I see our players in the paper hitting home runs and doubles and having 5 and 6 RBI days as the norm this spring. When you play against 87-92MPH pitching day in and day out at these high profile events hitting against most pitching in high school as a whole is much easier for them to produce during their high school seasons. One player told me the other day that hitting this year seems to be like seeing the ball in slow motion.
While there is plenty of baseball yet to be played this spring I would not want to be on the committee selecting the field of 16 for the Shore Conference tournament. Some teams are going to be left out that could beat the 4 seed on a given day. The key will be not to be the 14-16 seed in this year’s event.
So, while I would be shocked not to have a final with Manalapan, Jackson Memorial or Toms River South in it the games to the semi-finals are going to be fun to watch.