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The Preps : Boys’ Athlete of the Week : Kopp’s Role Shifts, but His Value Remains High

Times Staff Writer

Troy Kopp of Mission Viejo High School is considered a good professional prospect as a catcher.

A great arm, a good hitter, a little power.

“Troy has one thing that all scouts are looking for in a catcher--a cannon for an arm,” Mission Viejo Coach Ron Drake said.

Trouble is, no one has seen Kopp catch lately.

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Kopp, The Times’ athlete of the week, hasn’t had to squat behind the plate once this season. A fact that Drake is pleased about.

“Troy pitched last year too and, by the end of the season, his arm was worn out,” Drake said. “We needed him to pitch this season so we wanted to save his arm.”

So far, the plan is working.

Kopp had two victories and one save last week in the Santa Ana Elks tournament. At the plate he was five for 11 with five runs batted in, five runs scored and was named the most valuable player as the Diablos won the tournament title for the fourth consecutive year.

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Kopp not only won the championship game, he also saved it. He started, went 4 1/3 innings, then re-entered in the seventh to get the final two outs.

“Coach asked me if I wanted to go back in,” said Kopp, who was a second-team All-County quarterback last season. “I got out there and realized that I could save my own win. That’s definitely a new one for me.”

What also is new for Kopp is second base, the position he now plays when not pitching.

As a sophomore, Kopp played third base before switching to catcher as a junior. Drake wanted to move him from behind the plate this season, but already had a third baseman, Lance Sabella.

Drake did have an opening at second base, so Kopp gave it a try.

“All I want to do is help the team,” said Kopp, who has signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of the Pacific. “If that means not catching, then it’s fine with me.”

But second base is not just a place for Kopp to hide between pitching assignments. He has excelled at the position.

Drake said that Kopp adjusted to playing second quickly and his arm strength is a definite asset when it comes to turning a double paly.

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“Troy has really quick hands, which helps, but it’s his arm that makes him good at it,” Drake said. “A lot of second basemen get rid of the ball quickly, but Troy gets some mustard on his throw.”

TOP PERFORMERS

Eric Ekdahl of Mission Viejo was 10 for 16 with two home runs, seven runs scored and four stolen bases in the Santa Ana Elks tournament.

Eddie Lavelle of Corona del Mar won the 1,600-meter run at the Pasadena Games Saturday. Lavelle finished in 4 minutes 15.54 seconds, a personal record and the fastest time of Orange County runners this season.

Corey Giuliano of La Quinta was named the most valuable pitcher in the Anaheim Lions tournament. Giuliano was 2-0 in the tournament, including a four-hitter in the title game.

Jason Parsons of La Quinta was named the most valuable player in the Anaheim Lions tournament. Parsons went two for four with a two-run triple in the title game.

Troy Kopp

Mission Viejo High

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Position: Pitcher/second base

Height, Weight, Class: 6-2, 195, Senior

Last Week: Kopp won two games and saved one in the Santa Ana Elks tournament. He also was five for 11 with five runs scored and five RBIs.

Season: Kopp is 3-1 with a 2.69 earned-run average. He is hitting .500 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.


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