Garrido Ready for a Challenging Season
This year’s baseball team is the kind that gets the juices flowing for Titan Coach Augie Garrido.
It’s young and untested, and there was considerable uncertainty about the starting lineup when preseason practice started this week. The Titans open the season Jan. 31 against Cal Poly Pomona.
“This is the fun of it. We have a lot of unknowns, and it’s always fun for a coach to see players grow and develop in this kind of situation,” Garrido said as he prepared for the start of workouts. “There will be a lot of teaching that will take place. . . .”
Garrido long ago established himself as one of college baseball’s top coaches when his teams won national championships in 1979 and 1984. And two of his last three teams have made it to the College World Series. But elevating this year’s team to anything approaching that level will be a challenge.
Several top players from last season’s team, which advanced to the NCAA semifinals, went on to pro baseball and left the Titans with a big rebuilding task.
“It definitely will be one of our more inexperienced teams,” Garrido said. “But that can be good because you don’t have any specific expectations at the start. In a lot of ways, it makes it easier.
“The most important thing we have to do over the next several weeks is make sure everyone is together mentally and physically. We’re going to have to play very efficiently this season. We’re not physical enough as a team to overcome a lot of mistakes. It’s going to be important for us to stay focused all the time. That’s what we’re going to have to work on.”
The biggest question will be pitching. None of the starters from a year ago are back, including Big West Conference pitcher of the year Matt Wagner, who was declared ineligible for an unspecified NCAA rule violation.
The key will be how well junior Ted Silva makes the adjustment from reliever to starter and whether junior Jon Ward can finally perform up to the expectations the coaches have had for him since he came out of Huntington Beach High.
“I expect us to have some good position battles throughout the team,” Garrido said. “Nothing is really settled right now. The way we look at it, though, this is a two-year team that we hope it will be successful in one.”
David Harrison has wasted no time making his presence felt with the Titan men’s basketball team.
Harrison didn’t become eligible until the second semester, and played his first game just a couple of weeks ago against San Diego State, but he has already shown potential as a reserve.
Harrison had 11 points and seven rebounds against Loyola Marymount and hit a clutch three-point shot with seven seconds left to tie the score Friday night. Jim Williamson’s half-court shot at the buzzer, however, gave the Lions an 80-77 victory.
“David is definitely going to be a key contributor for us,” Titan Coach Bob Hawking said. “It’s unfortunate that he wasn’t able to be with us during the first semester . . . but he’s shown that he’s a quick study.”
Harrison attended Irvine Valley College in the fall to complete some classwork needed to become eligible. He played the two previous seasons at Mt. Hood (Ore.) College.
The coaches were shouting directions about where Harrison should be positioned on the floor in his first game, but he has settled in lately and the 6-7 junior has looked particularly solid on the scoring end of fast breaks.
It appears that another community college transfer, guard Ali Nayab, who played last year for San Diego Southwestern, will be a redshirt this year and have two years of eligibility remaining beginning next season.
The Titans have been well-stocked at guard with the return of senior Danny Robinson, who was academically ineligible during the first semester.
Chris Dade and James French have been the starting guards, and Chris St. Clair is the first reserve. The Titans also have been using three guards frequently.
The Titan women’s basketball team, 3-4, opens Big West play tonight at home against UC Irvine.
“It’s a game we’ve been looking forward to,” Titan Coach Deborah Ayres said. “We’re eager to get started in the conference.”
The two teams split their series last year. Fullerton won the first game, 75-72, and UC Irvine the second, 83-80. The Titans lead the overall series, 19-7.
“Irvine has improved so much in the last two or three years. We’ve both been in similar positions in the conference, both trying to move up, and that makes for a good rivalry,” Ayres said.
The Titans were eighth in the conference last year, UC Irvine ninth.
Center Koko Lahanas leads the Titans with a scoring average of 24.6 points. Guard Shayla Bradshaw is averaging 18.7.