1. St. Francis (6-2) — St. Francis beat everyone in the Elks Tournament, lost to Saugus and Crescenta Valley by relatively close margins. We’ll see how strong the Knights really are after they open Mission League play against Crespi today. Crespi is the top-ranked team in Division 2. How strong is the Mission League you ask? Loyola, also from the Mission League, is ranked No. 2 in Division 2.
2. Alhambra (7-1) — Moors found their form after losing to St. Francis in the Elks Tournament final. After soundly beating Kalani in a doubleheader last week, Alhambra went on the road and beat a good Bell Gardens team behind the strong arm of Jonathan Beltran and solid effort at the plate from Greg Saldate.
3. Monrovia (8-1) — I’ll be the first to admit I wondered the validity of the Wildcats pitching rotation. But senior pitcher Aaron Murphee is quickly proving he can carry the load and the tag of a true ace. He shut out South Pasadena in the Rio Hondo League opener, struck out nine and allowed only five hits.
4. Arcadia (4-2) — Apaches get a handful of cupcakes to open the Pacific League season, then head into the Apache Invitational before resuming league against the big boys.
5. Maranatha (3-5) — The Minutemen may have pitching depth but we’ve seen no evidence that relievers can maintain leads. There are some question marks after Dylan Covey, and for the first time in a long time, things won’t get easy come Alpha League play.
6. Pasadena Poly (5-2) — The Panthers have a long layoff because of spring break. No tournaments mean they don’t play until April when they resume Prep League action at Rio Hondo Prep on April 1.
7. Temple City (3-3) — The Rams got a confidence win over Blair. It gets gradually harder from that point forward as San Marino and Monrovia wait on deck.
8. Pasadena (5-2) — Bulldogs split a doubleheader vs. Valley Christian. They get a tough test today against Burbank in the Pacific League opener. I’ll be at that game.
9. La Salle (4-4) — Split a doubleheader vs. Maranatha over the weekend. Covey proved to be too much and the Lancers rebounded in the second game. La Salle travels for a big game Friday at St. Paul.
10. South Pasadena (4-4) — The Tigers suffered close losses to Monrovia. What does that say? It says South Pasadena is here to contend. My money’s on the Tigers to finish second behind Monrovia. San Marnio, Temple City and La Canada have their work cut out.