Getting into the CIF Southern Section playoffs is the goal of almost
every team that takes the field. Last season, all four local baseball
teams -- Burbank, Burroughs, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence --
fell short of that goal. This season, all four teams should be
improved and figure to contend for a chance to participate in
Ever since he graduated from Burroughs High in 1996, Tom Crowther
has dreamed of becoming the head coach of his alma mater. Now, after
six years as an assistant, Crowther’s dream has come true. He takes
over the head coaching reigns from Jose Valle, who coached the
Indians for nine seasons and led Burroughs to a Foothill League title
After missing the playoffs the past two seasons, Crowther is eager
to get the Indians back to their old winning ways, when he played for
While Burroughs (15-10-1, 5-9-1 in the Foothill League) has
certainly improved in hitting -- after former Indian standouts Mike
Magnante and Wes Hutchison helped out in the offseason with batting
practice -- Crowther is hoping his pitchers will be the Indians’
Senior Mike Diaz, a three-year varsity player, will be the ace of
the Indian staff. The right hander went 5-4 last season and stuck out
63 in 68 innings.
Sophomore Josh Campbell, a left-hander who threw a no-hitter
against Burbank, follows Diaz. They will alternate between the mound
and first base.
Crowther is also very high on senior shortstop Kyle Williams, a
three-year varsity player.
“He’s got the best hands in the league,” Crowther said of
Williams, who stole 19 bases in 21 attempts last year.
Hector Perez is now in his third year as the Guards’ coach, and he
feels he finally has a group that can start winning.
“We’re optimistic and very pleased that we have something we can
build on,” said Perez, a former Burroughs assistant.
Bell-Jeff went 2-8 in the Santa Fe League last year, but has a
solid core of young players. The Guards last made the CIF playoffs in
Senior pitcher Brian Vargas is the veteran of the team.
His brother, Fabio, a junior, will also pitch and play in the
Sophomore Derek Leiphardt, who had a strong football season, will
be the Guards’ catcher and could also see some time on the mound.
But it’s the Guards’ freshman class that Perez is most excited
Left-hander Ronnie Rohr will start at first base and see time on
Perez is extremely impressed with fellow freshman Aaron Molina,
and he isn’t afraid to put him at shortstop.
Sophomore Joey Diaz, a transfer from Alemany, figures to anchor
“This year is very pivotal,” Perez said. “We have a core that
will stay with us for three or four years.
Times have been difficult in recent years for the Bulldogs, but
third-year Coach Paul Marietti is hoping the worst times are behind
his program, which hasn’t won a league game in his first two seasons.
Burbank went 5-20 last year.
The good news for the Bulldogs this season is that the team
returns many key players from last season’s team that went 0-15 in
the Foothill League.
Early indications that things will be much better have already
come to light, as Burbank defeated Hoover, 4-1, in a scrimmage on
“That team is probably going to make the playoffs in their
league,” Marietti said of Hoover. "[For us] it’s not a matter of how
good we are, it’s a matter of what league we’re in.”
Leading Burbank’s pitching staff are senior returners John Bertain
and Ken Ngarayawongse.
Senior catcher Anthony Mazziotti will also be a key player.
Senior second baseman Paul Gonzalez returns, as does senior third
baseman Mike Pacheco. Both are four-year varsity player.
“We have eight seniors in our starting lineup,” Marietti said.
“We want to be a competitive team. We want to be able to win a game
in the seventh inning. We’re not going to get mercy-ruled this year.
We’re going to be competitive and we’re going to surprise some
The Pioneers are hoping to return to the CIF playoffs after
missing out last year following a 6-6 Liberty League season.
“I think we have a real good team, and if the pitching develops,
we can be very good,” Providence Coach Blaine Anderson said.
Senior pitchers R.J. Matta and Paul Palone lead the Pioneer
pitching staff. Matta might also see time behind the plate or at
Senior first baseman Andrew Franco figures to be a key player.