The three Kennewick schools and Hanford at the top looking down on the rest of the CBBN 3A -- check.
Walla Walla getting out in front of the CBBN 4A -- check.
Ben Jacobs lamenting on how his Richland Bombers need to learn how to play catch -- the same club that ends up in the state semifinals year after year -- double-check.
There are plenty of new faces and plenty of big cleats to fill around the area's baseball scene, but some things never seem to change.
"We have a lot of room for improvement," said Jacobs, whose Bombers are the gold standard for big-school baseball with five straight berths in the Class 4A semifinals and six in seven years to accompany those four championship banners hanging on the left-field fence at Bomber Field.
Richland and nearly all of the CBBN teams open league play today. The Bombers host Moses Lake at 3 p.m., while Chiawana plays a pair at Davis (3 p.m.) and Wenatchee travels to Eisenhower (4 p.m.)
In the 3A ranks, Kamiakin travels to Sunnyside (2 p.m.), Hanford is at Southridge (4 p.m.) and Pasco is at Kennewick (4 p.m.). Eastmont plays two at West Valley (2 p.m.)
Jacobs is not just lowering expectations or sending a message to his players. Richland (5-3) may well have to chase the likes of defending league champion Walla Walla (6-1) and Wenatchee (4-2) this season.
The Bombers have a lot of new faces, but some key familiar ones as well, starting with first-team all-league and all-area second baseman Corey Morris, though the senior might be hard to spot wearing catchers gear behind the plate after prospective junior backstop Colton Shelby was lost for the season to a shoulder injury.
Richland also has junior Mason Hilty back on the mound and seniors Dillan Klute (first base) and Connor Moore (outfield), all second-team all-leaguers.
Jacobs said finding arms will not be a problem. Scoring enough runs, on the other hand ...
"You can't score two runs and expect to win," he said. "Not in this league."
One team that hasn't had trouble scoring runs -- and the team showing the biggest improvement so far -- is Chiawana (6-2), the third-year program that rebounded from a 1-19 rookie season to go 7-13 last year, including a 4-8 record in league that tied for fourth.
"We're tearing it up," said Riverhawks coach Gary Jonas, whose team lost the bulk of its innings on the mound but returns nearly every starter in the field and has five regulars hitting .500 or better.
Leading the way has been three-year starter C.J. Edrington, who is hitting .607 with 11 RBIs and 10 stolen bases, and along with fellow speedster Miquiyah Zamora, who didn't play last year, is making it hard for hitters to find an open gap.
Chris Gill already has four wins on the mound, and Jonas said keep an eye on sophomore Spencer Bennion, who is hitting .520 and also has a 2.62 ERA in 131/3 innings.
Walla Walla has a lot of seniors to replace -- a quick look at the Walla Walla CC baseball roster will attest to that -- but the Blue Devils haven't missed a beat, thanks in part to big-hitting outfielder Moe Handcox and infielder Taylor Lemke. They also had enough pitching and defense to limit Kennewick -- perhaps the best hitting team in the area -- to just eight runs in splitting a doubleheader with the Lions earlier this week.
Davis returns several key players, including Jense Jensen and Damon Lybeck, who both hit better than .400 last season. Meanwhile, Wenatchee has two of the league's top pitchers in junior Dustin Driver and senior CJ Gettman.
CBBN 3A: No team is likely to run away with the league title. But Kennewick is starting with the most proven talent.
The Lions (4-2) return six all-league players, including two-time offensive player of the year Trek Stemp -- the Washington State-bound shortstop finally is a senior -- and first-teamers Jarod Gonzales (first), Troy Fulton (outfield) and Stetson Plew (pitcher).
"We're basically right where we need to be," said coach AJ Marquardt, who guided Kennewick to its only state title in 2008. "We're definitely looking forward to the season with all the older guys coming back."
After Kennewick, Hanford (5-1) is the most experienced despite graduating six key seniors.
The Falcons are great up the middle with Jacob Browne behind the plate and all-leaguers AJ Hoskins (short), Ryan Neal (second) and Finn McMichael (center) backing top starter Colin Serkowski, who looks primed to slide into the No. 1 starter role and still have a big year at first as well.
Kamiakin and Southridge graduated a ton of top-flight talent. But both have great senior third basemen to build around.
For the Braves (4-1), it's Drew Oord, who hit .508 with 31 RBIs in the regular season and was even more productive in the postseason. Look for a big year from Jesse Houser on the mound and at the plate as well.
The Suns (3-3) will build around WSU-bound Matt Mendenhall, who hit .473 with seven homers and 31 RBIs in the regular season.
"We're just trying to figure out who's who and what's what right now," said coach Tim Sanders, who has to replace every position player except Mendenhall.
Senior Dylan Mauer could be something special behind the plate. Junior Conner O'Neil is the most experienced returning pitcher, and Sanders has liked what he has seen from senior Daniel Neville.
The rest of the league will be scrambling to fill out the final two playoff spots. Pasco coach Tyler Hockaday hopes his eight experienced returners will help the Bulldogs (1-4) catch up to Eastmont and West Valley.
"The major thing for us is we left a ton of guys on base -- that was our Achilles' heel last year," said Hockaday, who lists all-league honorable mention T.J. Avery (DH, will catch and pitch this season) and sophomore utility player Justus Scott among his top returners.
CWAC: The league might seem upside down to area baseball observers, with perenniel contender Othello off to a 1-4 start, Grandview at 5-0 and Prosser at 4-1.
Of course, the Huskies' first three opponents have been Ellensburg (5-0), Selah (4-1) and Prosser; the Greyhounds, on the other hand, have beaten three opponents who have yet to win a league game.
Note: An SCAC East preview will follow next week.