Westlake will bank on a murderers' row in the middle of the batting order. Senior second baseman Ryan Cope batted .471 and senior shortstop Scott Dragicevich batted .359. Junior third baseman Kevin Howard is Ventura County's best player and batted .512 with eight doubles, six home runs and 31 RBIs as a sophomore. Senior Jeff Boyle (6-2, 3.48 ERA) is the only tested pitcher. . . . Thousand Oaks took its lumps last season but Coach Bill Sizemore's choice to give younger team members playing time will pay off this year. Junior catcher John Smith and the sophomore double-play tandem of shortstop Billy Lockin and Adam Leavitt bear watching. Junior Matt Rogers, who had a 1.94 ERA in 43 1/3 innings, is poised for a breakthrough year. . . . Newbury Park narrowly missed the playoffs with a strong finish. Second baseman Ryan Shipton and utility player Ryan Ayers, both juniors, earned all-league and all-county honors after each batted over .400. Senior outfielders Jake Farrel and Barry Toli, a transfer from Utah, are among the region's best. . . . Camarillo is led by senior third baseman Jay Caligiuri, whose 47 RBIs were a team record. Senior Joe Yingling is a top catcher and junior Shane Miranda is dangerous at the plate but is out indefinitely on the mound because of elbow problems. . . . Royal has a pair of returning all-league players in shortstop Brett Wayne and pitcher-first baseman Mike Byer, both seniors. Outfielder Tyrone Kimbrough is a star in the making. . . . Agoura has speed in senior center fielder Chris Poling, who stole 30 bases in 31 attempts as a junior. . . . Simi Valley has not made the playoffs since 1995 but returns eight starters. . . . Channel Islands catcher Jared Krehbiel, one of two returning starters, batted .494 with 28 RBIs.

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