SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PREVIEWS : PACIFIC LEAGUE
COACH: Tony Zarrillo, 3rd season
LAST SEASON: 12-12; 3rd in league, 9-6
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Crescenta Valley hit 19 home runs last season but hit a shade below .300 as a team. “We’ll be improved from a hitting standpoint,” Zarrillo said. “Our average should be better, but we won’t be bad at hitting the long ball.” Pitching, however, is the biggest question mark. Seniors John Breckow and Brian McBride will do the majority of the pitching, but junior first baseman Josh Canale occasionally will be on the mound. Other returnees include senior second baseman Ernie Diaz, sophomore shortstop Brendan Cowsill and senior catcher Andy Saltsman. Senior outfielder James Yoder, who was elevated to the varsity late last season, will be joined by sophomore Brett Miller and senior Sam Vaquera. Senior Scott Von Lossberg will be at third base and freshman David Fielder could play infield, outfield or catcher.
OUTLOOK: Crescenta Valley has made three consecutive playoff appearances, but Zarrillo tabs defending league champion Arcadia as a favorite to repeat. “After that it is wide open for second,” Zarrillo said. “We’ll be competitive.”
COACH: Chris Axelgard, 4th season
LAST SEASON: 17-7-2; 2nd in league, 10-4
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Glendale lost three all-league players through graduation, including most valuable player Danny Gray. Shortstop John Aguilar transferred to Hart High. “We have a lot of unknown quantities,” Axelgard said. “It’s going to be fun and interesting.” Axelgard hopes that senior pitcher-infielder Lance Evans, senior first baseman Bill Kirk and senior outfielder Rene Gangel will offset the Dynamiters’ losses. Junior Jason Greenberg and sophomore David Sofro both will pitch and play shortstop. Matt Leising, who played tennis the past three years, will open the season as the cleanup hitter. Senior Alex Megas, a transfer from Burroughs High, sophomore Brendan Barrett and Jason Greenberg, the junior-varsity MVP, will play in the infield. Sophomore Keith Hopkins will be the catcher.
OUTLOOK: “We’re following up a pretty good year,” Axelgard said. “Going into last season, we expected to do well and did. As usual, we’ll shoot for the playoffs and anything past that is gravy. This year is wide open. We don’t know what to expect. I can see us finishing anywhere from second to fifth in league.”
COACH: Jim Delzell, 1st season
LAST SEASON: 9-14; 5th in league, 6-9
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Delzell, a former standout at Occidental College, replaces 15-year Coach Bob Cooper who stepped down to give himself more time to watch his son Randy, who plays at St. Mary’s. The Tornadoes have lost three all-league infielders--Mickey Moreno, Jose Robles and Steve Avilas--to graduation. Delzell hopes a somewhat experienced pitching staff can compensate for the loss of offensive production. Junior right-handers Kevin Deitch and Young Park and senior left-hander Rob Walley will be the key players. Delzell describes the trio as hard throwers. “If our three pitchers come through, we’re going to be all right,” Delzell said. “They are pretty solid and that’s going to be our strong point.” Senior infielder-center fielder David Pardo, sophomore first baseman Nathan Dishington, junior third baseman Joby Lewis and senior outfielders George Rodriguez and Alan Mendoza are expected to be offensive catalysts.
OUTLOOK: “Arcadia is going to be the team to beat,” Delzell said. “I’m a little bit worried because of our inexperience. I think we’ll be right up there and come through.”