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Xaverian among the big three in baseball

Mother Nature has begun to tease Boston with spring weather and the high school baseball season will soon be in full swing with its up-and-comers and returning powerhouses. Here’s what to expect from each division heading into the 2013 season:

In Division 1, 2012 champion Xaverian is expected to be one of the big teams to watch with plenty of returning players, but don’t count out fellow Catholic Conference teams BC High and St. John’s Prep.

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The two latter teams finished last season with better league and overall records than the Hawks.

“Things are so close and so hard-fought,’’ said BC High coach Norm Walsh. “The games turn on the little things.”

Walsh explained that from his perspective, the Prep is the favorite to win the Catholic Conference based on its arms.

“Their pitching is a cut above some of the other teams in the league,” said Walsh.

These Catholic Conference powerhouses are sure to be a threat for the Division 1 title.

In Division 2 last year, it was Burlington and Beverly battling for the North title, which the Red Devils won. Burlington finished the tournament with a total of 31 runs scored to just 12 surrendered. Before winning the North, the Red Devils finished as one of the top teams in the Middlesex League Small Division. There’s little reason to see that changing in 2013.

On the South side, Plymouth North saw a similar run through its tournament, not surrendering a run until the semifinals against Oliver Ames. The Eagles won that game, 12-3, before winning the sectional final against Dighton-Rehoboth, 4-3. All this from the team that entered the tourney as a sixth seed after finishing third in the Atlantic Coast.

Given the offensive firepower that both Plymouth North and Burlington posted last postseason, it’d be hard to ignore either team as they try to defend their titles.

Defending Division 3 champ North Reading brings plenty of experience back to the diamond, which it will need playing in the Cape Ann League.

“To be honest, expectations weren’t that high last year. We were a young, inexperienced team,” said North Reading coach Frank Carey. The Hornets hit just .262 on their way to the title and tallied only eight extra-base hits in the process.

“Expectations are high this year,’’ Carey said. “We’ve got seven starters back and 16 of 18 players returning. I would say that we have the best depth that I can recall in decades.”

Carey believes that all the usual contenders in the CAL will be strong again this year, such as Newburyport, North Andover, and Masconomet. It’s hard to argue with the Hornets coach when you consider the three teams were a combined 28-13 in the league last year.

When looking at Division 4, one must first look at teams such as Bishop Connolly and West Bridgewater.

The teams met in the South sectional last year, the Cougars winning, 6-1, in the semifinals.

Bishop Connolly fell to Harwich, 11-0, in the South final but shouldn’t be dismissed.

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