One of my favorite times of year is the Shore Conference Tournament. Often a team has to choose between County, States and Shore Conference when they are alive in one; two or all three of them and pitching depth often gets tested.
This is not the list of teams selected it is just an opinion of someone who has seen all of the teams play this year. Good Luck to all the teams and those who will be out to prove me wrong. Play Hard!
I have listed what I feel to be the top 16 teams in the shore and I have seen all of them play in person. The one biggest thing to note is that if there was a ranking for the Top 16 with a team’s number one pitcher on the mound from their number two pitcher the rankings would be different.
These rankings are based on who are hot, pitching depth as well as overall hitting thus far.
Jackson Memorial our number 1 team has shown the ability to be consistent and in tournament baseball a sold coached team often is the difference. Jackson Memorial has been tested and is consistent with a good mix of veteran leadership as well as good young talent being mixed in.
RBC has the talent to be number 1 when all is said and done for this tournament. They know how to come back and the one thing that scares me is that they have come back or played to the level of their opponent too often. When I coached at Brookdale we were often the far superior team and every now and then when we went to turn on the light switch the bulb did not come on. If they play to their ability from the first pitch to last they will be tough to beat.
CBA is hot but an ankle injury to John McCarren could be a big blow. With McCarren on the mound they could beat any team in the state by scoring just one run. They certainly are capable of holding their own without him and have to be respected with a good mix of players and a hot Dudek whose bat has been coming to life lately.
Toms River South is playing much better baseball since an average start early this year. It looks like two totally different teams and when they get on a roll this time of the year they are hard to beat.
Wall is a team that started out on fire and has cooled off just a bit but do have the offense and pitching to compete with anyone. A good young hitting team that could surprise if you are not ready to play.
St Rose is a team that plays in what I consider the worst baseball conference in the Shore. We all have said it before, “Who have they played?” I have seen them and while they are not battle tested day in and day out they have the talent to be considered one of the top teams in the shore. They are the Boise State of Shore Conference baseball and they have no control of who they play. Sleep on them and you will be heading back on the bus out of the tournament.
St John Vianney has been bitten by the injury bug but like the Yankees has maintained a good result. They may not win the low scoring game but if it turns into a shootout they have the bats to outscore you.
Jackson Liberty is a team loaded with talent and has players with 4 year varsity experience. The difference will be if they can make the routine plays for 7 innings. If they can play an errorless game they can beat anyone in the shore. The key is playing a solid defensive game from first pitch to end.
Toms River North might have the best pitching staff in the Shore. They have Blum who can beat anyone and two other more than capable pitchers to carry the load. Offense is the problem and will have muster up more runs to make a run at the title. They might have a few young players that can help if given the chance to hit off the bench.
The rest of the field has had their moments and if they all played each other in a 30 game season they would probably be as about as even as you could be. Years ago a MLB scout said to me that the Shore is the most competitive conference in the state in baseball. I have to totally agree and it has not changed. I have been to four states this year to watch high school baseball and you can’t find a conference as deep as the Shore Conference when it comes to competitive baseball.