As West York celebrates its second straight PIAA baseball championship Wednesday with a parade, we begin to take a peek into what next year could hold for the Bulldogs and the rest of the YAIAA.
Here's a way-too-early preseason ranking with this past season still fresh:
1. Red Lion (10-6, 9-4 YAIAA D-I): It's easy to put the state champs in the No. 1 spot and before West York's run, there was a lot to like about the Lions. Yes, enough to argue them as a league favorite going into next year. They will be as experienced as anyone with catcher Drew Landis and outfielder Brady Taylor -- two Division I all-stars -- back for their senior seasons. Plus, junior Scott Rissler is well on his way to being a four-year varsity pitcher.
2. West York (21-8, 7-6 D-II):
Seven of the nine starters in this year's PIAA Class AAA championship game will return next year. Those two positions with new faces will be center field (a move from right for Brett Kinneman?) and pitcher, where it gets interesting. Third baseman Carson Fries was most effective as a reliever. Does he stick in that role? Other returning players with some pitching experience at this level include: senior Brandyn Smith, junior Nick Traettino and junior Logan Stover.
3. Spring Grove (15-8, 10-3 D-I):
The division champs and league tournament finalists lose player of the year Levi Krause but return a number of notable players. Middle infielder Nick Spangler, who pitched the Rockets' YAIAA championship game and became their No. 1 starter, will be back. Dalton Hoiles, who began the season as a catcher, played more third base and pitched before being DH'ed because of arm troubles, also will be a senior. Johnny Gross emerged as the starting catcher, but with his graduation it's likely we'll see Hoiles back behind the plate. Seniors Jake Thoman (3B/P) and Will Maughlin (1B) also will be back.
4. Susquehannock (14-7, 11-2 D-III):
The Warriors might have flown under the radar a bit early in the season while picking up wins. They'll get player of the year Sammy Miller (OF/P), plus all-stars Bryan Kerr (Sr., OF), Josh Houser (Sr., INF/P) and Connor Hood (So., SS) back in the lineup.
5. Dallastown (13-10, 9-4 D-I): Another team that will make Division I intriguing, the Wildcats bring back the league's most dangerous leadoff hitter, Rob Catchings, and one of the most effective pitchers, Tyler Butcher. Tanner Forry also will be back in the outfield, giving Dallastown three senior returning all-stars, but the 'Cats do lose some pop in Matt Attig and Zach Luman.
6. York Catholic (13-9, 9-7 D-IV): The momentum of a district title and only two players lost from the 2013 team should definitely fuel the Fighting Irish as at least the Division IV favorites. Their top two pitchers, senior Erich Hartman and junior Jake Krevetski, will be back. Both also can contribute offensively. One key departure is captain and catcher Josh Elsen.
7. Northeastern (12-8, 6-7 D-II): Things just won't look the same without Jesse Sargen on the mound or patrolling center field. However, coach Don Kauffman had quite a young team that challenged West York. Steve Shimkus should take over a senior pitcher, while sophomore Kody Reeser, sophomore catcher Devin Blymire, junior Nick Sprenkle and senior slugger Grant Myers are among those to return.