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Story by Edgar Melik-Stepanyan Photos by Roger...

Story by Edgar Melik-Stepanyan Photos by Roger Wilson *

BURBANK-- Aaron Feterl believed in himself.

But did anyone else?

For several months in the winter of 2001, the answer to that

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question was a toss-up.

Here was a pitcher on the Crescenta Valley High baseball team who

couldn’t throw more than two consecutive strikes during a practice,

let alone a game.

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Here was a junior who had the potential to be a regular starter,

but wasn’t living up to the promise. And here was an athlete who

played hurt, but didn’t admit it until most of the damage had already

been done.

In Nov. 2001, Feterl strained a ligament in his right elbow while

pitching. The smart thing would have been to have his elbow looked

at. But when a pitcher is battling for a spot in the rotation, he

tends to eschew the pain.

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For three months, Feterl, a right-hander, played through the pain,

until he couldn’t bare it anymore. In February, his doctor told him

he had to shut down his elbow, needing to rehab and rest it for six

months. That wasn’t exactly the news he wanted to hear, especially

two months before the start of the season.

So, how does a player make a dramatic comeback to be voted by the

writers and editors of the News-Press and Burbank Leader as the 2003

All-Area Player of the Year?

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Easy.

Through a dedicated and focused work mentality.

Through patience.

And by seizing the moment.

When a pitcher wants to prove himself, he’ll do just about

anything to show his coaches that he has the will and strength to get

through tough moments. For some athletes, risking an injury is all

about pride, trying to outduel a teammate, or an opponent, and hoping

to be noticed.

“I used to go into the seventh inning of games with my arm

hanging,” Feterl said.

Feterl’s bravado cost him his junior season and nearly his senior

year as well. He could have been a starter for the Falcons as a

junior, and proven CV Coach Phil Torres’ prediction that he could

have been one of the top juniors in Southern California.

But instead, Feterl had to start from scratch.

His injury -- which didn’t require surgery, but also didn’t allow

him to play catch for half a year -- taught him to be patient, to

know when enough was enough, but most importantly, it reminded him

how just much he loved and missed playing baseball.

“It was the worst feeling ever to not be able to play,” Feterl

said.

During his time away, Feterl developed a work ethic that made his

teammates take notice of what was to come. He had to go through

physical therapy three times a week, he hit the weight room, and did

just about anything that was needed to stay in shape.

“If anyone was working hard, it was Aaron,” said Feterl’s

teammate, Aaron McGuinness, who earned first-team All-Area honors.

“He was always the one who would go the extra mile. He was always the

guy who would do the work and not complain.”

*

When Feterl finally did return to the mound in the winter of 2002,

he still had velocity on his pitches, but his command was a

completely different story.

“He was throwing the ball over the screen [at Stengel Field],”

Torres said.

Torres and CV pitching coach Darrin Beer worked with Feterl, no

matter how many times he threw the ball over a batters’ head during

practice.

“It was embarrassing when I came back,” Feterl said.

Not only had Feterl lost his command of his three pitches --

fastball, curveball and changeup -- but he lost his confidence.

Torres and Beer kept working with him, helping him with his mechanics

during bullpen sessions.

“We kept throwing bullpens and doing the work, hoping he would

come around,” Torres said.

Feterl finally did.

He made his first start in the 40th annual Babe Herman Tournament

on April 7 against Fullerton Troy. He pitched five strong innings,

and also had two hits, which was only a sign of things to come.

In his next start -- which came against Glendale on April 22 --

Feterl pitched a complete game, striking out eight, walking three and

allowing two hits with two unearned runs.

By that time, CV ace Trevor Bell was battling arm soreness, and he

probably wasn’t going to return, so Feterl and P.J. Rousey had to

answer the call.

“When Trevor went down, everything was clicking for me,” Feterl

said. “I knew I had to step up.”

Feterl, who’ll attend Riverside Community College in the fall,

worked his way into becoming CV’s new ace, and he came full circle in

a May 16 start against Arcadia in the regular-season finale for both

teams. The Apaches had already clinched at least a share of the

Pacific League title, and were poised to sweep the Falcons in the

season series.

Torres gave the ball to Feterl -- an All-CIF Southern Section

Division I first-team honoree -- and he ran with it. He surrendered

just two hits and struck out nine in five innings to lead the Falcons

to a 7-5 title-clinching victory.

The 18-year-old pitched just 37 innings in his senior year, but

had a 6-1 record with a 1.14 earned-run average, and proved to be a

top pitcher, making believers of everybody.

*

ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM

* Kyle Barratt * Crescenta Valley * Senior * Infielder

UC Riverside-bound player hit .313 with three home runs, 19 RBIs

and 16 runs scored to earn first-team All-Pacific League honors.

* Eric Bell * La Canada * Junior * Infielder

Sure-handed shortstop was not only a defensive force, but batted

well-over .300 to earn first-team All-Rio Hondo League honors.

* Brent Callister * La Canada * Senior * Infielder

First baseman showed occasional flashes of power in earning

second-team All-Rio Hondo League honors. Also hit in the .300s.

* Chris Church * St. Francis * Senior * Utility

Was team’s most productive offensive player, hitting .380 with

eight runs batted in. Also scored six runs and had 19 hits.

* Scott Hofer * Flintridge Prep * Sophomore * Designated Hitter

Continued to be a force at the plate for the Rebels, while playing

numerous positions. Hit .410 with 19 RBIs and six doubles.

* Tae Kwon * Hoover * Sophomore * Pitcher

Despite missing the latter part of the season with injury, Kwon

still made a major impact for Tornadoes, going 2-3 with 0.99 ERA.

* Patrick Lam * Glendale * Junior * Outfielder

Was a force at the plate and on the mound for upstart Nitros,

hitting .358 to earn second-team All-Pacific League honors.

* Anthony Mazziotti * Burbank * Senior * Catcher

Hit .348 with three home runs, three doubles and nine runs batted

in to earn second-team All-Foothill League honors.

* Mike Motia * La Canada * Senior * Infielder

Motia was the team’s best hitter, batting over .400 to earn

first-team All-Rio Hondo League honors for Spartans.

* Ken Ngarayawongse * Burbank * Senior * Pitcher

Was the ace of surprising Bulldog staff, leading Burbank to a 7-13

overall record and two wins in the always-brutal Foothill League.

* Nigel Orozco * Crescenta Valley * Junior * Outfielder

Multiple-sport athlete showed he can play baseball, too, hitting

.283 with 12 runs and eight runs batted in.

* Matt Snyder * Hoover * Junior * Utility

Named first-team All-Pacific League after strong campaign at the

plate and on the mound. Hit .360 and was 4-2 with 3.74 ERA.


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