MLB Opening Day is Finally Here!

By Tori Kitchens

Major League Baseball (MLB) is back! Today marks Opening Day of the 2023 MLB season.

The 2022 season ended with an American League (AL) victory in the World Series for the Houston Astros over the National League’s (NL) Philadelphia Phillies. The Astros won in six games, ending the Phillies’ impressive postseason run in Houston.

Last year’s regular season ended with the New York Yankees winning the AL East, the Cleveland Guardians winning the AL Central, the Astros winning the AL West, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets tying for the win of the NL East, the St. Louis Cardinals winning the NL Central, and the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the AL West.

ESPN writers, analysts, and editors made their predictions of the season outcome. They predicted that the regular season winners from the AL will be the same, and the Astros will become the AL champions.

The NL, on the other hand, having undergone many changes to their ball clubs, have very different outcome positions. The Braves were chosen to win the NL East significantly over the Mets, the Cardinals are predicted to win the NL Central, and the San Diego Padres were predicted to edge out the Dodgers in the NL West. The Padres were also chosen to edge out the Braves in the NL championship.

The ESPN voters were in favor of an NL team becoming the 2023 World Series champions but were split between the Braves and the Padres. The Braves have 2022 NL Rookie of the Year finalist Spencer Strider (pitcher) and the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II (outfield) to continue their impressive starts in the majors. The Padres organization is one with a lot of talent with five strong batters to leadoff their order. Fernando Tatis, Jr. will make his return in late April following injuries from last season and a suspension on account of performance enhancing drugs.

MLB play may look a little different this year as rule changes will be implemented. Infield shifts are prohibited, a new pitch clock is enforced, pitchers are only allowed to make two pickoff attempts per batter, and the size of bases are increased from 15 to 18 inches to reduce injuries. We have seen previews of some of these changes in spring training games and are being introduced in college ball as well.

Many transactions occurred during the offseason with the most dramatic being shortstop Carlos Correa. This infielder’s name was brought up multiple times during the offseason as he opted out of his contract with the Minnesota Twins. Correa was set to sign with the San Francisco Giants, but, due to concerns of a weak ankle, the baseball club was timid to let him sign on the dotted line, which would grant him a 13-year, $350 million deal. In the middle of the night on December 21, Correa agreed to a 12-year, $315 million contract with the Mets, which stood as a major threat in the NL East. More concerns arose in the Mets ball club surrounding Correa’s ankle, so he returned to the Twins where he signed a six-year $200 million contract.

Braves fans, like myself, were heartbroken following the loss of former first baseman Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers following the World Series win in 2021. The Braves organization and fans took another hard hit as hometown hero Dansby Swanson’s contract expired. Swanson is one of the league’s most dynamic players and shortstops. On Dec. 17, he announced he would join his new wife, professional soccer player Mallory [Pugh] Swanson, in Chicago and sign a 7-year, $177 million contract with the Cubs organization.

Two more notable transactions included former Dodgers infielder Justin Turner and former Mets ace pitcher Jacob deGrom. Turner will return to AL competition as he suits up for the Boston Red Sox. He will face his former team, the Baltimore Orioles, during opening weekend. DeGrom will make his Texas Rangers and American League (AL) debut as the ace pitcher against the Phillies.

Season Opening Series:
Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals
San Francisco Giants @ New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles @ Boston Red Sox
Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs
Detroit Tigers @ Tampa Bay Rays
Philadelphia Phillies @ Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Cincinnati Reds
Colorado Rockies @ San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays @ St. Louis Cardinals
Minnesota Twins @ Kansas City Royals
New York Mets @ Miami Marlins
Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros
Los Angeles Angels @ Oakland Athletics
Arizona Diamondbacks @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Cleveland Guardians @ Seattle Mariners

Just Because: March Madness Has Truly Gone Mad

By Ryan McKinney 

The time has come and madness here for us all, bringing many new matchups and many teams awaiting the big dance. The tournament contains 68 teams total including four buy-in games to create a bracket of 64 total teams. 

 Through the first weekend of games nothing has changed as the tournament featured a total of seven upsets in the round of 64, and five upsets in the Round of 32. This is nothing usual though as anything can happen in March. Highlighting the biggest upset this past week comes from the 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU…a school in New Jersey) beating Number 1 seed Purdue in a wire-to-wire game in the first round. FDU coach Tobin Anderson spoke in the locker room after winning their buy-in game saying, “The more I watch Purdue, the more I think we can beat them.” This revealed the true underdogs confidence and how they can compete with any team in the tournament despite losing in a close game in the second round of the tournament. Other big moments in the tournament so far come from the Ivy League school Princeton as they shocked the world beating Number 2 seed Arizona in the first round, then went on to beat Missouri to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Besides these big upsets, many top ranked teams still remain as the Houston Cougars and Alabama Crimson Tide pose as big threats moving on in this tournament. Furthermore, there are also what I like to call “Dark Horse” teams in which the players are very talented, but the team itself isn’t ranked amongst the best. These teams consist of Miami, Kansas State, Creighton, and UCLA. 

Other big games consisted of Arkansas pulling off the upset against 1 Seed Kansas in the second round propelling them to the Sweet Sixteen. Along with this big win from Arkansas, Miami routed a very talented Indiana team who many thought could get to the Final Four. Miami showed last year that they could make a run and I see it happening again this year as they are led by young star Isaiah Wong. 

The matchups of the teams remaining in the Sweet Sixteen are listed below:

South Region:

March 24
#1 Alabama vs. #5 San Diego State @ 6:30pm 
#6 Creighton vs. #15 Princeton @ 9:00pm 

East Region:

March 23
#9 Florida Atlantic vs. #4 Tennessee @ 9:00pm 
#3 Kansas State vs. #7 Michigan State @ 6:30pm 

Midwest Region:

March 24
#1 Houston vs. #5 Miami @ 7:15pm

#3 Xavier vs. #2 Texas @ 9:45pm

West Region:

March 23
#8 Arkansas vs. #4 UConn @ 7:15pm

#3 Gonzaga vs. #2 UCLA @ 9:45


Although everybody’s bracket is broken, ESPN still offers a challenge to predict the Sweet Sixteen and I’d like to share who I believe is going to win and why. Coming out of the South Region games, I have Alabama cruising past the Aztecs as the Tide are just too efficient on offense; and then Creighton ending the Cinderella run in a close match though against Princeton. Between these two teams, I believe Alabama will barely edge out Creighton to advance to the Final Four. Moving on to the East Region, I have Florida Atlantic (FAU) continuing their hot streak and advancing to the Elite Eight in a matchup against Kansas State. Kansas State will beat Michigan State easily as they just perform at a way faster pace and score too many points for the Spartans to keep up. Anyways, I have Kansas State led by Florida Gator alumni Keyontae Johnson ending the streak of FAU and advancing to the Final Four. Next, is the Midwest Region which contains, in my opinion, the toughest pair of games to predict. Both games have teams that have displayed a series of proficient basketball in the past, and I don’t expect anything to change. I believe Houston will slightly edge out the Canes due to their big size in the paint containing two seven footers in the starting line up. Facing up against Houston in the Elite Eight will be Texas as they’ve been hot since beating Kansas twice by more than 20 points during the end of the regular season. This will be the game of the tournament likely either ending on a buzzer beater or going to overtime, but with my winner comes size so I’m taking the Cougars. Lastly, the games in the West Region have one of my personal favorites to win the tournament in UCLA. I’ve watched this team the past three years and not only do they have athleticism and size, but also tournament experience as this is their third Sweet Sixteen in three years. So, I will be taking UConn in a very close game against Arkansas who just beat Kansas, but then UConn losing to UCLA in the Elite Eight by at least double digits. 

This brings me to my Final Four in which I believe will be some of the greatest college basketball games in a few years. To start off, I have Alabama standing their ground and barely skipping by a tough Kansas State team to advance to the championship. In this next game come my two favorite teams coming into the tournament, where Houston has the advantage because the entire Final Four is hosted in Houston. Nevertheless, I still believe UCLA can outscore the Cougars in their hometown so I’m taking the Tyger Campbell-led Bruins. Finally comes the championship where the two most talented teams sacrifice their season in engaging their last-ditch effort to win the title. Without a doubt, I’m taking the team I’ve been riding with all month long and that’s the UCLA Bruins. This is because of their offensive efficiency as well as their way to play such good defense while still putting up a bunch of points. 

Spanish Students Head To Conferencia

Since November, a select number of students taking Spanish have been practicing for Conferencia, a state-wide competition where students perform a two minute impromptu speech, 10 students act in a play, and six students recite poetry…all in Spanish. With a maximum of 16 students competing, Oak Hall is hosting this year’s competition in Orlando. The competition, which starts on Thursday, March 8, goes into the weekend.

In addition to the aforementioned categories, schools can compete in auxiliary events. These events aren’t factored into the overall score, but do have first, second, and third place standings. Oak Hall students have prepared two songs, one dance, one poster, one physical scrapbook, one digital scrapbook, and a t-shirt design to show off their school, and Spanish, spirit.

    Seniors Sadia Rafa and Sophia Santelices perform the song they are singing in the competition

    Over the past five years, Oak Hall’s Spanish program has won first place twice (2019 and 2020), and third place (2022). The competition in 2021 was cancelled due to COVID. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be able to compete at such a high level against schools larger than Oak Hall. For one final practice, the students hosted a performance at the Upper School Learning Commons on Monday, complete with costumes and perfection. Spanish Teacher Krystal Serrano has complete faith in her students and believes they will do well in the competition. “They’ve worked hard and I’m proud of them,” she said.

    Good luck Eagles!!!