Coaches will tell you it is tough to win a championship, but even more difficult to repeat. A three-peat is an exceptional achievement that deserves special recognition. There are 14 schools that enter the 2011 season with a streak of at least three straight titles. They range from Hawaii to Vermont, from national powers to young programs, to schools public and private. These impressive programs all have one thing in common; they will not be content to let their streaks end in 2011.
Teams are listed below in order of consecutive state championships won.
Punahou (HI) 2004-2010 Division I Champion
The nation’s longest championship streak belongs to the Buff n’ Blue of Punahou who have won seven consecutive state titles. The school is probably best known as the alma mater of US President Barack Obama, who played basketball for Punahou. The school has also made its name on the diamond with 13 state championships since the start of HHSAA tournaments in 1959. In the 2010 title game Punahou knocked off Baldwin HS (alma mater of MLB C Kurt Suzuki) 13-2 in five innings, the first time a Hawaiian state title game has ever ended with a run rule. The program routinely sends prospects to Division 1 programs with former players at Cornell, Northwestern, San Diego, Santa Clara, Kansas, and Washington.
Coach Eric Kadooka returns for his 11th season with 2010 Gatorade Player of the Year OF Michael Suiter (Santa Clara commit) leading the team, along with SS Ryan Yamane (Northern Colorado commit), and junior pitcher Zak Muester, who was named MOP of the 2010 State Tournament.
Bishop Gorman (NV) 2006-2010 4A State Champions
A national powerhouse, the Gaels are on a streak of five straight titles. It is the longest streak in the state of Nevada since Green Valley won six straight from 1993-1998. First year head coach Nick Day is very familiar with the Green Valley streak as he was a player on the 1993-1996 championship squads, and was named Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year in 1996. Day, who spent the last two seasons as Bishop Gorman's varsity assistant and junior varsity coach, takes over for Chris Sheff, who over his 7 years transformed Bishop Gorman into a national powerhouse. Day admitted “I think there is definitely more pressure on me than there would have been on Coach Sheff. That is pretty much the only thing that has changed so what else would people point the finger at, but the coaching change.”
The program has six alumni in professional baseball, and 14 in college baseball, including seven from the 2009 team that ended the season 36-4, and #2 in the final PG National High School Rankings. The 2011 team looks to be just as talented with UNLV commits SS/RHP TJ White, C Erik Van Meetren, and the top ranked 2012 prospect in the state, 3B/RHP Joey Gallo. Day sees the Las Vegas area as a major challenge this year as Rancho and Sierra Vista both look very strong, as do Green Valley, Coronado, and Liberty.
When asked about the challenges of prolonged success, Day touched on something that coaches of most perennial champions will face. “I think it’s a challenge to be seen as a powerhouse. It’s difficult to make sure the kids are ready to play everyday. They sometimes feel a sense of entitlement and don’t show up to games as focused as they should. Plus everybody that plays us has nothing to lose.”
Rocky Mountain (CO) 2007-2010 5A Champions
From 1995-1999 Cherry Creek, behind future big leagers Brad Lidge and Darnell McDonald, dominated the state, winning five straight titles. Rocky Mountain can match that number if they can win another title in 2011. Since taking over the program in 2004, coach Scott Bullock has a record of 97-23, sending multiple players on to the next level, including RHP Scott Bachman (Kansas State), IF Andy Burns (Arizona), OF Jake Stewart (Stanford), and 2010 graduates MIF Luke White (Kansas State), RHP Pierce Trumper (Arkansas), and OF/LHP Marco Gonzalez (Gonzaga).
The Lobos blew though the 2010 5A tournament winning three games by 10-run rule, winning all of their games by at least 3 runs, and beating Ralston Valley 9-4 in the title game with Gonzalez striking out 11 in a complete game. The 2011 squad is again looking like one of Colorado’s best, led by 3B Jess Amedee (Northern Colorado commit) who hit .509 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI in 2010. They’ll face strong competition from Regis Jesuit, and Cherry Creek will look to win their first title in the 21st century.
Laurens Academy (SC) 2007-2010 SCISA Class A Champions
Coach Travis Casey returns a very talented roster and Laurens is the favorite to win their fifth straight championship. The program has sent five players to the college ranks; current collegiate players are 2006 grad RHP Bryson Graydon (Anderson University) and 2009 grads IF Ben Giddens (Wofford) and C Luke Tolleson (Spartanburg Methodist). Last year’s champions sent Sam Giddens to Anderson University and Region Player of the Year Ryland Culbertson to South Carolina on a football scholarship.
The 2011 team looks to again be the team to beat behind RHP Alex Satterfield (South Carolina commit), LHP Brandon Martin (Presbyterian commit), and IF Christian Greene, named to the All-Region team in 2010.
Sumrall (MS) 2008-2010 3A Champion
While many teams would struggle with the pressure of having a target on their back, the Bobcats are used to it. Sumrall made national headlines in 2010 as their nation-long win streak reached 67 straight games, before ending eight short of the national record. The Bobcats ended their season with a 36-1 record, #3 final ranking in the Perfect Game National Rankings, winning their third straight 3A title.
Despite losing Jackson Posey (Southern Miss) and Chase Lewallen (Mississippi State), the team returns a loaded senior class that has pitching, strong play up the middle, and lots of experience and leadership.
LHP Luke Lowery (Southern Miss commit) returns after going 11-1 with a 1.13 ERA as a junior, he will be joined in the rotation by RHP Tyler Simmons, and RHP Brandon Pennington (Pearl River CC commit), who transferred from Northwest Rankin. SS Connor Barron (Southern Miss commit) is the team’s top returning hitter, along with 2B Bradley Smith, CF Austin Carter, and C Austin Knight, son of head Coach Larry Knight.
Sumrall will be tested by some top competition with games against rival Oak Grove (who ended Sumrall’s winning streak), Clinton, and an out of state contest against Russell County, AL. The two games circled on the schedule are February 26 and March 26 games against defending 6A champion Petal, which may decide who is the top team in the state.
Farragut (TN) 2008-2010 AAA Champions
The Admirals have won six of the past eight AAA championships and many expect them to add another in 2011. They look to be one of the best teams in the state and maybe in the nation. The 2010 squad went 42-6, giving first year head coach Matt Buckner the title on a walk-off home run by Nicky Delmonico in the 8th inning of the state championship game. Buckner credits the leadership of C Ethan Bennett, the 2010 Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year, and RHP Nick Williams (9-0 in 2010, 19-0 career) in making the transition from former coach Tommy Pharr so smooth.
Both Bennett and Williams are now freshman at the University of Tennesse, but the star power is not gone. Georgia commit Delmonico, who will move from SS to C this year, and LHP Phillip Pfeifer (Vanderbilt commit), named MVP of the 2010 state tournament, are top prospects. One of the keys to Farragut’s success has been the dedication of the players, year-round, with a big part of that being strength and conditioning, according to Buckner. The Admirals are also looking for big years from Juniors SS AJ Simcox and LHP Xander Taylor, and Sophomore CF Cameron Strickland. They will face challenges this year from a number of schools, including Science Hill, Mount Juliet, Houston Academy, and Collierville.
Brentwood Academy (TN) 2008-2010 Division II-Class AA Champions
Brentwood, the Nashvill suburb known mostly as the home to many country music stars, is also the home to a Tennessee baseball powerhouse. Coach Buddy Alexander led the Eagles to the 1999 state champion before winning the last three in succession, becoming the first team in TSSAA history to accomplish the feat (only to be matched by Farragut just weeks later).
In a wild 2010 state title game, RHP/1B Will Blalock hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in 8 runs as Brentwood beat Memphis University School 17-14, coming back after MUS scored nine runs in the first inning.
Blalock has moved on to Lipscomb University, and fellow 2010 seniors Andy Lennington, and Cody Nelson are now at Southeast Missouri State and Centre College, respectively. Though it will be tough to replace that trio, the 2011 team is strong again with sophomore C Will Haynie (Vanderbilt commit) and senior OF Nathan Renfro (Maryland football commit) leading the way.
Portsmouth (NH) 2008-2010 Class I Champions
The Clippers have not lost a game since Hollis/Brookline beat them in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Class I State tournament. The winning streak now sits at an incredible 62 straight games. If they can go through the 2011 campaign unblemished they will break the national record of 75 straight. The current record in held Homer (MI), a streak that ended with a loss in the 2005 Michigan Division 3 state title game.
Coach Tim Hopley begins his sixteenth season at the helm and is faced with the challenge of replacing 1B Mike Montville, now at the University of Maryland, and RHP Nate Jones, now at Wake Forest. The duo was named co-athletes of the year for the spring season. The team returns 6 starters from a year ago, including four juniors.
Virgin Valley (NV) 2008-2010 3A Champions
Bishop Gorman isn’t the only Nevada school who has put together an impressive streak of titles. The 2010 squad ended the season with a 25-8 record and a third straight title with a 8-1 win over Truckee. LHP Tanner Tichenor, who was not even in the Bulldogs rotation until the middle of the season, was the hero with a second straight postseason complete game, shutting out Boulder City in the 3A Southern League title game. Tichenor helped his own cause in the game with a three-run first inning triple that keyed the five-run rally, all the offense that was needed.
Tichenor returns for his senior season, and will be counted on as the ace of the pitching staff. INF/P Brandt Eaton and OF/P Daniel Gleave are two other returnees that will be leaned upon heavily.
Bishop Hendricken (RI) 2008-2010 Division I Champions
Former big leaguer Rocco Baldelli’s alma mater has an athletic tradition envied by most schools across the country with 261 Rhode Island state championships in its history. The Hawks have won 16 baseball titles since 1977, and are now coached by 1973 Hendricken alumnus Ed Holloway. The 2010 team went 19-3, losing their first playoff game of the double-elimination Division I Final Four before winning their next four, including two in a row against North Providence to win the title.
The future looks very bright for the Hawks as they return 14 players from 2010, including C Billy Walker and OF/LHP Thomas Panone, the two top ranked 2012 graduates in the state.
Leland and Gray (VT) 2008-2010 Division III Champions
Based in the small southern Vermont town of Townshend, Leland and Gray continued its dominance with its third straight title in 2010. After finishing 18-2 in 2008 and 2009, the Rebels won 18 of their last 20 games, including a 8-0 victory in the Division III championship game. Senior LHP Gabe Pozzi was the winning pitcher, as he was in the 2009 title game, and senior Tyler Russell went 3-4 with a homerun to clinch the title. Both players were named to the South All-Star roster at the end of the year.
Claiborne Christian School (LA) 2008-2010 Class C Champions
After starting the season 3-11, it looked like the Crusaders streak of Louisiana Class C championships would end at two. The team quickly turned their season around, winning 15 out of their last 16 games and beating Grace Christian to win their third straight title. Coach Chad Olinde’s team is ranked #1 in the preseason Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association poll and will be led by a strong senior class including 2B/C Kennen Cobb (transfer from West Monroe High School). William Fulton returns in CF after being an All-State selection his junior year, as was LF Cody Walker.
CCS has bulked up their early season schedule with 3A schools Farmerville and Rayville, as well as 2A runner-up Sterlington to prepare for another run for the Class C championship.
Lawrence Academy (NC) 2008-2010 NCISAA 1A Champions
With a high school enrollment of 123, Lawrence Academy is the smallest school on the list. That did not stop the Warriors from going 16-4 in 2011, including 10-0 and 14-2 victories over Greenfield to take home their third straight title.
Coach Robert Kravitz lost eight seniors from last year, including Chad Whitehead, one of the top two-way talents in the state. Whitehead went 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 53 strikeouts on the mound, and added 6 home runs and 27 RBI while hitting .465 at the plate. He was an All-State selection for a 4th straight year and was named Tarheel Independent Conference Player of the Year. He is continuing his career at UNC-Pembroke. Kravitz does have young talent returning, including junior C Jim Porter and sophomore Darren Armstrong.
Wesleyan (GA) 2008-2010 Class A Champions
The Wolves became the tenth team in Georgia state history to win three straight state titles as they beat Aquinas, 13-0 and 9-4 to sweep the three-game championship series. The team fought through adversity with early season injuries to their top pitcher LHP Devin Stanton (now at Georgia Tech) and hitter, OF Conor Welton (now at Georga). With those players out, young players had to step up, which will be the case again this year as the team needs to replace ten seniors.
SS Gardner Heaner, a player coach Michael Shaheen cut as a freshman, worked his way into the lineup last year, eventually hitting cleanup and playing 3rd base. He is back for his senior season, as are OF Alex Thykeson, and LHP/OF Mason Colquitt. The Wolves look to have a tough road back to the Class A title, as Calvary Day, Hebron Christian, and Holy Innocents all look to have deep and talented rosters.
While the following teams do not have a current streak of titles, they have performed well enough to also be considered high school baseball dynasties.
-Calvert Hall (MD) had their streak of five straight MIAA titles snapped in 2010. The Baltimore school has a record of 169-31 since 2005.
-Owasso (OK) streak of three straight titles was snapped as they lost to Union in the 6A semifinals. The Rams have played in the 6A finals in 13 of the past 14 years. They have a good chance of returning in 2011 behind RHP Dylan Bundy (Texas commit), who has a chance to be a first round pick in the MLB draft.
-La Cueva (NM) has won six of the past eight 6A titles and looks to be strong again this year behind LHP/OF Ryan Padilla (New Mexico commit).
-Parkview Baptist (LA) has won seven Class 3A state titles since 2002, and have a chance to add another in 2011. They are led by senior RHP William Bacon (LSU-Eunice commit), junior RHP Russell Reynolds (LSU commit) and junior LHP Colin Rogers (Auburn commit).
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