They have no fewer than five players headed to major colleges, have won two consecutive Central Section titles, four of the past seven and six of the past 12.
They are top-ranked in the section by The Bee and No. 1 in the state and No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps.
They finished top-ranked nationally in five polls last year with a 30-1 record after finishing No. 12 nationally in one poll in 2015 and No. 1 in one poll in 2011.
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They are 438-121-4 (.782) in 18 seasons under Bee two-year reigning Coach of the Year Tom Donald, including a 211-48 mark (.815) in the past eight years.
They are the Buchanan Bears, America’s finest high school baseball program of the decade.
They just increase the size of the target on your back.
Buchanan High baseball coach Tom Donald on the effect of rankings
“The rankings really are humbling in a lot of ways and a real feather for the program and community,” says Donald, “and they’re nothing we take for granted. They just increase the size of the target on your back. We’ve learned to deal with that, but every season is new. We’ll see how this team handles the notoriety and pressure. As coaches, we try to ignore it and focus on the game at hand.”
Buchanan, returning five Bee All-Stars, including Outstanding Hitter Quinten Selma (.443, 29 RBIs) and right-handed pitcher Hunter Reinke (11-0, 2.20 ERA), will open the season at home Saturday at 11 a.m. (weather permitting) against the section’s No. 10 Mt. Whitney.
It’s part of the 26th annual Coca Cola Classic Tournament operated by Clovis High. Eleven of the 14 participating teams are ranked in the section, including No. 2 Clovis North, No. 3 Clovis and No. 5 Clovis West.
Other 11 a.m. Saturday openers in the tournament will send No. 20 Bullard to Clovis, No. 12 Madera to No. 13 Clovis East, Hanford West to Clovis West, No. 6 Tulare Western to Clovis North, No. 14 El Diamante to No. 11 Edison and Memorial to Sunnyside.
It will continue for two weeks, closing with the championship March 4 at Clovis High at 2 p.m.
30-1 Buchanan’s record last year, when the Bears won a second-straight section Division I title and finished top-ranked nationally in five polls
It was a 6-0 Coca Cola Classic start last year that launched a Buchanan season powered by Bee Player of the Year Grant Gambrell. The powerful right-hander who was 12-0 with a 0.69 ERA, .363 batting average and 35 RBIs is now at Oregon State.
The Bears also lost Bee All-Stars JT Arruda at second base and Alex Peralta in the outfield.
And so what?
In addition to Selma, who has signed with Cal, and Reinke, who is uncommitted, the Bears return Bee All-Stars Zach Presno (senior catcher), Chase Rocamora (senior outfielder) and Jamal O’Guinn (senior shorstop).
Presno has signed with Fresno State and O’Guinn with USC. And senior right-handed pitcher Carson Olson has committed to Cal and junior outfielder Jake Renteria to San Jose State.
“This team has a chance to be offensive,” says Donald. “The infield is very physical. And we have an experienced defense, which is helpful in the bigger, tighter games. We have a great senior class that works their butts off and leads by example. They’re very coachable, team-oriented kids.”
Wins record in sight for Patrick
Clovis coach James Patrick is expected to overtake Mike Noakes this season as the winningest coach in section history.
Patrick is 695-240-2 with 13 league titles and eight section crowns in 31 years with the Cougars (29) and Memorial (two), according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Noakes went 708-261-7 from 1967-2002 with 17 league championships and five section titles in 32 years at Bullard (26) and Central (six).
The Bee’s preseason Central Section baseball rankings
1. Buchanan (30-1 in 2016, 14-1 TRAC/D-I champion)
2. Clovis North (24-7-1, 11-4 TRAC)
3. Clovis (23-9, 7-8 TRAC)
4. Stockdale (20-8, 13-2 SWYL champion)
5. Clovis West (11-18, 5-10 TRAC)
6. Tulare Western (21-8, 15-0 EYL champion)
7. Redwood (23-8, 8-4 WYL, D-II champion)
8. Centennial (15-15, 9-6 SWYL)
9. Central (12-17, 4-11 TRAC)
10. Mt. Whitney (18-9, 11-1 WYL champion)
11. Edison (16-14, 9-6 CMAC)
12. Madera (18-11-1, 7-8 CMAC)
13. Clovis East (11-17-1, 4-11 TRAC)
14. El Diamante (14-13-1, 6-6 WYL)
15. Fresno (21-8, 13-2 NYL champion)
16. Selma (19-12, 7-8 CSL)
17. Garces (12-18-1, 5-10 SWYL)
18. Kerman (23-8, 15-0 NSL champion)
19. Sanger (9-20, 4-11 CMAC)
20. Bullard (21-9, 13-2 CMAC champion)