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HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PREVIEWS : City Eastern : Madison the Favorite but May Be Challenged

The City Eastern League baseball teams are tournament tested and ready to go for the opening of the league season today.

The six league coaches agree that defending champion Madison is the team to beat, but judging from performances in nonleague tournaments, it should be a competitive year.

Madison won the Madison Warhawk tournament and Mira Mesa the Crawford tournament title. Patrick Henry was runner-up in the Lions tournament AAA Division, in which Point Loma made it to the semifinals.

“I’ve got to say Madison is the favorite, but Mira Mesa should be right there, Morse has got a good club, and Serra has its best club in years,” Point Loma Coach Bill Hall said.

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Madison

Last season: 24-3, 13-2 league (first).

Coach: Bob Roeder.

Top returners: Matt Lee (senior, P); Devin Fitzmorris (senior, P); Buzz Brown (senior, C); Pete Valdez (senior, 3B); Albert Mendiola (senior, OF).

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Top newcomers: Terry Magnett (senior, SS).

Outlook: Right-hander Lee (5-0) and left-hander Fitzmorris (2-2) are two keys. Last year, they didn’t lose a game between them; Lee was 7-0, Fitzmorris 12-0. Lee has a no-hitter this season, a 9-0 victory over Vista in the championship of the Madison Warhawk tournament. Roeder said defense is Madison’s strength. “Last year, we rose to the occasion and came from behind many times,” Roeder said. “We’d like to do that again this year.”

Mira Mesa

Last season: 17-8, 9-6 league (second).

Coach: Mike Prosser.

Top returners: Eric Martinez (senior, P); Travis Arnold (senior, P); Ricky Hastey (senior, 2B); Jimmy Escamilla (junior, OF).

Top newcomers: Beau Champoux (junior, SS); Marc Nielson (sophomore, P/OF).

Outlook: Mira Mesa (8-2) finished four games behind the Warhawks last season, but the Marauders are off to a good start this year; their two losses were by one run each. Prosser lost the middle infield from last year’s team (second baseman Eric Sealey and shortstop John Martin, both all-leaguers), but left-handed pitcher Arnold, an all-league selection in 1988, returns and is 2-1 and averaging about 12 strikeouts. Nielson, a sophomore right-hander, is 4-0.

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Morse

Last season: 13-13, 7-8 league (fourth).

Coach: Lee Arevalo.

Top returners: Dave Grigsby (senior, 2B); Russ Schuchart (senior, 3B); Sergio Guzman (sophomore, SS); Gilbert Benitez (sophomore, C).

Top newcomers: Chris Nelson (sophomore, P); Mike Romero (junior, OF).

Outlook: Grigsby was all-league in each of the past two seasons, and he and Guzman give Morse (6-4) a strong double-play combination. The bad news is that pitcher Larry Mothershed is coming off a sprained ankle and is not expected to be at full strength for at least another week. Arevalo hopes that Mothershed and Nelson will give Morse enough pitching to last through the league schedule. Morse doesn’t have much power, but the Tigers nonetheless have averaged 7.5 runs a game.

Patrick Henry

Last season: 13-11, 8-7 league (third).

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Coach: Bob Imlay.

Top returners: Chris Regan (senior, P); Mike Coleman (senior, C); Mike Chapman (senior, P/OF).

Top newcomers: Scott Arlin (junior, P/1B).

Outlook: Coleman led the Patriots with three home runs in 1988, and Regan, a senior right-hander, is 2-2 this season. “When our pitching is at its best, we’ll be effective, but we’re not going to blow anyone away,” Imlay said. Patrick Henry (7-6) played well enough in the Lions tournament last week to reach the championship of the AAA division, where it lost to Granite Hills, 6-5.

Point Loma

Last season: 8-16-1, 3-12 league (sixth).

Coach: Bill Hall.

Top returners: Brett Callan (junior, C); Jose Beltran (senior, 2B); Ken Moshier (senior, P).

Top newcomers: Bob Simoneau (junior, SS); Lee Wielebski (senior, 3B); Andy Horowitz (junior, 1B).

Outlook: Only three players return from last year’s last-place team, but Point Loma (4-8) reached the AAA division semifinals of the Lions tournament, where it lost to Granite Hills, 10-0. Point Loma’s top pitcher is sophomore right-hander Mel Shanley (3-1). Callan and Beltran are the only two true returning players with experience; Moshier pitched in only two games in 1988.

Serra

Last season: 9-16, 5-10 league (fifth).

Coach: Ken Sovay.

Top returners: Robbie Knight (senior, 1B/3B); Alex Williams (senior, OF); C.J. Meyer (senior, C); Sean Kerr (junior, P).

Top newcomers: John Ned (senior, P); Roderick Alexander (junior, OF).

Outlook: It’s business as usual at Serra (4-6) this spring: Sovay is the school’s fourth varsity coach in four years. “I’m a disciplinarian and a fundamentalist, so it will be a learning year for everybody,” Sovay said. “Mostly them learning how to play for me.” Serra has 11 returning, led by right-hander Kerr.


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