San Fernando High baseball Coach Steve Marden predicts that Tiger opponents will be facing a bigger and better Frank Serna this season.
Bigger, certainly. Over the past two years Serna, a senior right-handed pitcher, has grown 18 inches and added 45 pounds, reaching 6-0 1/2 and 200 pounds this winter.
But the jury is still out on just how much better Serna will be. However, after weighing the early evidence, Marden already has reached his verdict.
“I predict that Serna will have a player-of-the-year-caliber season,” he said. “He’s worked very, very hard in the off-season.”
Marden said that in Serna’s case, more meat equals more heat.
“He’s added about five miles an hour to his fastball,” Marden said. “He isn’t fat, he’s measurably stronger from lifting weights and working out. His recovery time will be substantially less and he should be able to throw 100 pitches each start with no problem at all.”
It will just about take a player-of-the-year season for Serna to improve on his past two seasons. An All-City and Times’ All-Valley baseball selection as a sophomore, Serna was 3-1 with a 2.78 earned-run average in Mid-Valley League play last year.
And he is off to a good start this season. Serna threw a five-hit complete game in his first outing, a 5-1 win over Crescenta Valley. He will start against St. Francis in the championship game of the La Canada tournament at 7 tonight.
Taft turnaround: It didn’t take Adam Zutler long to establish himself as Taft’s top clutch hitter.
Largely because of Zutler, a senior catcher, the Toreadors (3-0) won their first two games of the Westside tournament, beating Buena and Westchester by 6-5 scores.
In both games, Zutler (6-foot-2, 225) delivered the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh. Against Buena, Zutler singled to score Glenn Nahmias. Against Westchester, he lofted a sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run.
New life: Alemany’s Jon Beauchemin could saw his bat in half and still consider this season a marked improvement over last season when he drove in nine runs and batted a cool .211.
After two games, both victories, Beauchemin is five for seven and has 10 RBIs, including a three-run homer against Chaminade and a two-run single in the seventh inning against Palisades.
Missing in action: Russell White of Crespi missed the Spartan Relays at Rio Mesa on Saturday because he took a trip to Berkeley with his mother, according to Crespi track Coach Jim Benkert.
White, who has signed a letter of intent to play football for Cal, was scheduled to run against Curtis Conway of Hawthorne in the 100 meters.
Staff writers Steve Elling, Sam Farmer, John Ortega and Vince Kowalick contributed to this notebook.
BASEBALL TOP 10
Selected by sportswriters of The Times
Last Rk Wk Team League Record 1 1 Hart Foothill 2-0 2 3 San Fernando North Valley 2-0 3 4 Simi Valley Marmonte 3-0 4 8 Notre Dame S.F. Valley 3-0 5 2 Chatsworth West Valley 1-1 6 9 Westlake Marmonte 2-0 7 5 Crespi Del Rey 1-1 8 6 Saugus Golden 1-1 9 7 Kennedy North Valley 2-1 10 10 Monroe Mid-Valley 0-0