DUNEDIN — The state’s longest-running high school baseball tournament delivers its first pitch Monday afternoon.
Twelve teams will take part in next week’s 45th Annual Dunedin Spring Classic at the Toronto Blue Jays’ Englebert Athletic Complex.
Weather permitting, games will begin Monday evening and build up to Friday’s championship game at 8 p.m.
This year’s field consists of nine representatives from Pinellas County and one each from Hillsborough, Manatee and Pasco counties.
Joining host Dunedin in the field is Calvary Christian, Canterbury, Clearwater Central Catholic, Countryside, Inspiration Academy (Bradenton), Lakewood, Osceola, Pinellas Park, River Ridge, Tampa Bay Christian and Tarpon Springs.
The tournament perennially boasts high-level competition and a number of teams that eventually make state playoff runs. Last year’s winner, Lynn Haven Mosley, finished up as the Class 6A runner-up.
Things are no different in 2014. The 12 teams’ combined record, excluding Tampa Bay Christian, is 85-41 and nine currently own winning records.
Who enters next week as a prohibitive favorite is anyone’s guess. CCC came into this past week 10-0. Osceola is 10-1. Inspiration Academy, the tournament wild card, is 11-3. And Countryside (7-3), Pinellas Park (9-6) and Calvary (9-2) are all capable of stringing together quality wins.
Monday kicks off with two prime matchups at 5 p.m.
Countryside-River Ridge and Osceola-Pinellas Park will set the tone for the competitive five-day tournament.
To view the entire Dunedin Spring Classic bracket, go to DunedinBaseball.com.
After losing last year’s Dunedin Spring Classic title game to Mosley, East Lake is headed east over spring break this year to Sanford for the 2014 Florida League High School Invitational.
The Monday through Friday tournament includes 16 teams from all over the state. If nothing else, it will give the Eagles to good glimpse of unfamiliar competition as they beginning prepping for a run through the Class 7A tournament in May.
East Lake (9-3) opens on Monday night at 7 p.m. against Class 5A Eustis (7-4). A win would put them into a Wednesday quarterfinal against one of the field’s two top teams: Independent program Montverde Academy (7-2) and Class 3A Maitland Orangewood Christian (10-3).