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High School Review : Mt. Carmel Tries Scientific Approach to Get Up to Speed

For 12 weeks last winter, the Mt. Carmel High School baseball team experimented with a program to help its players throw and hit harder by taking part in a study conducted by Dr. Coop DeRenne of the University of Hawaii.

This spring, midway through the season, the results are mixed.

“I don’t know, I really don’t,” Sam Blalock, Mt. Carmel’s baseball coach, said when asked whether the program had had much of an effect on his team, which is 15-10 overall and 5-2 in the Palomar League (tied for first).

Even if the Mt. Carmel players’ abilities didn’t improve dramatically, Blalock said, the program was still beneficial.

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“I’d do it again,” he said. “I learned a lot regarding pitching and hitting mechanics and conditioning.”

The program, developed by DeRenne and Texas Ranger pitching coach Tom House, is geared to improve pitchers’ throwing velocity and hitters’ bat barrel-head velocity.

The Mt. Carmel players worked with overloading--using heavier than normal baseballs and bats--and underloading--using lighter than normal baseballs and bats.

The players were divided into two groups. For 12 weeks, pitchers in Group A threw a prescribed number of times, using, in order, a regulation five-ounce baseball, a six-ounce baseball, a four-ounce baseball and then a five-ounce baseball.

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Group B was prescribed a different ratio and didn’t throw all three balls at once. For six weeks, the players threw a regular and a light baseball, and for the next six weeks they threw regular and heavy.

Both groups also did aerobic workouts on alternate days. The program was similar for batters.

“The people in Group A benefited the most,” Blalock said. “On the average, their pitches improved 2 to 3 miles per hour. It was nothing significant.”

Left-hander Joey Brownholtz, who threw about 72 m.p.h. last year, showed the greatest margin of improvement. He has been clocked this spring at 82.

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“But I don’t know how you can factor out natural maturation in high school kids,” Blalock said. “Some kids can change so much in six months.

“I think the program has real merit. I just think it’s difficult at the high school level. He (DaRenne) has a very holistic approach, and I think it’s very good. He works on mechanics, conditioning and nutrition.

“You know high school kids aren’t going to follow all of it, but he did give the kids some good information, some things to try, (and reinforced some things) such as before the game you shouldn’t eat McDonald’s and candy bars or you’re going to pay for it about the fourth inning.

“It’s like anything. You take what you can use and use it and throw out what’s not applicable.”

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Point Loma High School’s Amy Lightner was chosen this week as the California Interscholastic Federation female scholar-athlete of the year.

Lightner, who is the No. 1 singles player on the tennis team and carries a 4.789 grade-point average in honors classes, is only the second county athlete to be honored in the seven years the award has been given. San Dieguito’s Paul Chan (tennis) was honored last year.

The award is given to outstanding student-athletes based on academics, athletics and Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.

From the ugly department comes this: Last Friday, the Christian High softball team defeated Lincoln, 31-2.

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Thanks in large part to 19 Lincoln errors, Christian scored 12 runs in the first, 1 in the third, 4 in the fourth, 9 in the fifth and 5 in the sixth. Of the 31 runs, 5 were earned.

“It’s not that big of a thing,” Christian Coach Rene Palafox said. “We weren’t trying to run up the score; they’re just not a real good softball team. But they gave a real good effort.”

Senior shortstop Angie Davenport led Christian by going 5 for 7. Pitcher Quay Farkas, catcher Amy Dawson and second baseman Carrie Olsen all went 4 for 6.

The Fallbrook and Orange Glen baseball teams tied a national record April 22 when they combined for 12 home runs in a 12-inning game at Fallbrook.

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Five players had two: Gavin Dooley, Sean Gousha and Matt Taylor of Orange Glen and Chris Dalton and Dirk Fisher of Fallbrook.

Fallbrook won, 12-11, on a home run--how else?--by Mike Saylor.

The Carlsbad High golf team, which has won 106 consecutive Avocado League matches spanning 10 years, is scheduled to appear on ESPN’s “Scholastic Sports America” this afternoon at 4:30. The program will be repeated on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m.

Mission Bay is rated as the No. 1 baseball team in the state in the 3-A division in the latest issue of Cal-Hi Sports. The Madison High softball team is No. 2 in 4-A.

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