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New Coaches, New Jobs, a New Position--and an Old Question

A pre-summer checkup on some of the Valley’s top athletes and coaches:

Tim Collins, an assistant baseball coach at Granada Hills High this spring, is the new head baseball coach at Pierce College.

Bob O’Connor, Pierce athletic director, said that Collins was selected from a strong field that included several candidates with college and/or top high school experience.

“We had some real good ones apply and experience-wise Tim was probably not the best candidate,” Connor said. “What really impressed us, though, was his enthusiasm. He’s a real go-getter and being from the area, he already knows a lot of people.”

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Collins was a high school All-American at Granada Hills. He then played for Cal State Northridge before starting his career as a coach.

He replaces Don Tamburro, who resigned at Pierce to accept a job as assistant coach at Pepperdine University.

Sean Sterle was The Times’ Valley prep Back of the Year in 1982. Todd Jones won the same award in 1983. Both ended up as highly touted prospects at Rice University.

Their careers seemed to parallel, but since their arrivals in Houston, their fortunes have changed.

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Sterle went to Rice after an outstanding year a Moorpark College. His statistics as quarterback, both at Moorpark and at St. Genevieve High, were the kind that jumped right off the scouting report and into a coach’s heart.

He was touted as a top newcomer by Sports Illustrated and Playboy, but Rice fans barely even saw a glimpse of the golden arm before it was wracked by injury.

Sterle, a sophomore, suffered a shoulder separation during spring practice and had to sit out last season. Now, a year later, he is in a four-way fight for the starting quarterback spot. He is not one of the favorites.

Rick Dykes, an assistant coach at Rice, says the coaching staff still hasn’t had a good look at what Sterle can do.

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“Last year, by the time he had picked up our system, he got hurt,” Dykes said. “Missing last year, he’s still going through somewhat of a learning process this season. Considering the competition he’s up against, that’s a major problem.”

Jones, who attended Harvard High, should have no such trouble.

After playing almost exclusively on special teams as a freshman last season, he is listed as the team’s No. 1 tailback going into summer drills.

“Todd had a great spring,” Dykes said. “He’s everything we thought he’d be and more. We should have ourselves one fine running back for three years.”

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Bill Hughes, former coach of the Pierce College basketball team, has returned to Reseda High as coach.

Hughes led Reseda to the City 3-A basketball championship in 1984 before taking over at Pierce. He announced his resignation at Pierce shortly after the basketball season ended, citing problems with recruiting quality athletes as the reason.

The signing of Steve Sharts, Mark Ban and Pete Callas to professional baseball contracts last week brought the number of players who have signed directly out of Cal State Northridge to 64.

The Angels’ organization has been most partial to CSUN players, signing 12 players, including Ban this year.

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Sharts, who signed with Philadelphia after being drafted in the 17th round of the June free agent draft, is only the third CSUN player to be signed by the Phillies, but the other two were significant.

Philadelphia made Mike McKuster the first professional player out of Northridge back in 1961.

The Phillies waited four years to draft and sign their next CSUN player. Terry Craven, a center fielder, was assigned to Bakersfield of the California League after signing a contract following the 1965 collegiate season.

Craven spent one year in the minor leagues before entering the Navy. After his discharge he returned to Northridge as an assistant baseball coach. He recently finished his first season as head baseball coach.

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uiz: When Craven became head coach, he replaced Bob Hiegert, who had coached the Matadors for 18 seasons. Before that, Hiegert was an assistant coach for two years, having first joined the CSUN staff in 1965.

Question: Who did Hiegert replace when he was hired on as an assistant?

Hint: He is known for his voice, not his coaching accomplishments, but he is still involved with the game of baseball. His most famous phrase: “Touch ‘em all!” (Answer below.)

Tim Lichty had never played third base in a baseball game. Yet, earlier this month, the Houston Astros drafted Lichty as a third baseman on the fourth round of the secondary phase of the major league free agent draft.

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Lichty was an outfielder at Moorpark College this spring, but his strong arm and footwork convinced Astros’ scout Paul Weber that Lichty’s home should be third base.

This is not the first time a pro scout drafted Lichty because of his potential as an infielder. He was originally drafted by the Expos as a third baseman out of Wooster High in Reno, Nev.

“I guess they see something in me that tells them I’d be better off in the infield,” Lichty said. “Both teams that drafted me asked me to play third base after watching me take ground balls. I’ve never actually played the position before.”

Since he was drafted, Lichty has been playing third for the Ventura County Royals, a semipro team. “It’s an adjustment, but I feel pretty comfortable there already,” Lichty said.

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It certainly hasn’t affected his hitting. In 11 games for the Royals he has hit three home runs.

Lichty says he has scholarship offers from Cal State Fullerton and Fresno State to fall back on, but he’d like to sign.

“I’d love to go play one more year at college, but it’s such a gamble,” Lichty said. “If I do real well I might get more money, but there’s always a chance of injury, too.

“I’m leaning toward signing. Houston’s Class-A team (in Sarasota, Fla.) hasn’t generated too much power. I feel if I sign and go down there and hit a few home runs and steal a few bases I might be able to move up fairly quickly.”

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At Moorpark, Lichty was hitting only .199 at the season’s midway point before going on a tear and finishing with a .346 average. His best game was against Ventura College, when he went 5 for 5, hit two home runs and drove in eight runs.

There was no secret to Oxnard College’s triumph in the Western State Conference this season.

The Condors won the championship with pitching. Lots of it.

That fact has apparently not been lost on college scouts, who have beaten a trail to the Oxnard campus in search of a few healthy arms.

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Scott Evans, an All-WSC pitcher from Oxnard, has signed a letter of intent with Gonzaga University, a Pacific-10 Conference northern division school. Evans played at Thousand Oaks High.

John Riley, another All-WSC pitcher, has signed with USC. Riley was drafted out of Westlake High by the San Francisco Giants, but did not sign.

Of course, any good scout knows that a good pitcher is made even better by a smart catcher.

Catcher Andy Skeels, who called the pitches for the Oxnard staff, received a half scholarship to play for the University of Arkansas, a college world series participant. Skeels is a graduate of Thousand Oaks High.

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Dave Forman, a former two-time All-Marmonte League catcher at Westlake, has transferred from Cal State Fullerton to Valley College.

Forman redshirted at Fullerton this spring.

Quiz Answer: Dick Enberg, radio broadcaster for the Angels and television announcer for NBC, left CSUN in 1966 to become the sports director at KTLA in Los Angeles.

Enberg went to Northridge in 1961 and coached junior varsity baseball from 1962 to 1964. During the next two years he worked as a special assistant to Ralph Prator, the university’s president.

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Dave Desmond and staff writer Steve Henson contributed to this notebook.


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