Just one local baseball team qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs last season.
That squad was Burbank, under veteran coach Bob Hart.
The Bulldogs will have two veteran coaches at the helm this season, as former Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood has joined the staff after being let go after the 2019 season.
Taking over at Burroughs is former Bellarmine-Jefferson standout Matt Magallon, who grew up in the city and knows the lay of land.
Mando Contreras returns at Providence with hopes of improving on a 2019 campaign that yielded just two wins.
Here is a closer look at the teams.
The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they went 10-13-1 and tied with Crescenta Valley for second place in the Pacific League with a 10-4 mark. Arcadia went 13-1 in league to win the title.
In the playoffs, Burbank fell in the CIF Southern Section Division IV first round to Mary Star of the Sea, 9-2.
“We have a good team chemistry and the kids seem to be on the same page,” Hart said. “Seems like everyone is kind of falling into their role, which is nice.
“We lost some guys from last year, but we have some guys who have kind of jumped in and taking the reigns. It’s been a nice transition for us. We might have more this year as far as camaraderie goes.”
Hart says the addition of Sherwood adds a wealth of baseball expertise for the Bulldogs.
“You are always looking to surround yourself with quality coaches,” Hart said. “We both bring some things to the table and I really think we make each other better. It’s a good partnership.”
Hart looks to have a large of pitchers at his disposal, including seniors Oaklee Spens, Willem Clendenin and juniors Ryan King, Josh Balos, Ian Schenk, Greg Kirkorian, a transfer from Village Christian, and Olaf Kuiper.
“We might pitch by committee. I think that will be the best way to go for us,” Hart said.
At first base for the Bulldogs will be juniors Jaden Rez, Devin LeClair and junior Jacob Drossin, a transfer from Alemany. Patrolling second base will be senior Tyler La Marsna, who is nursing an ankle injury, and at third will be seniors Jakob Duarte and Adam Loera. Doing the catching will be senior Dominik Severo.
Spens will also play in the outfield along with Schenk, seniors Aidan Gonzalez, Justin Robinson, Troy Lee and Alain Trenzado. Senior Luis Martinez could see time at catcher and pitcher and Wyatt La Marsna is a utility infielder.
“In our league, Arcadia’s always good, CV’s always good and Burroughs should have some good guys,” Hart said. “We just expect to go out there and compete in every league game.”
Magallon inherits a squad that went 10-19, 7-7 in league for fifth place. The Indians didn’t qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The Indians lost a large group of players to graduation, but there is still talent remaining and the team has been bolstered by some promising newcomers.
“I think we lost something like 17 seniors from last year, some ridiculous amount,” Magallon said. “We do have a lot of young guys, but we have a group that knows baseball and has some experience.
“Even with me being new, I think they all have bought in at what we’re trying to do here. We do things a little different from the last coach, but the players have adapted very well ... It’s a great group of kids. They are anxious to win and we have the talent. It’s just a matter of molding that talent into what’s best for this program.”
Holding down the pitching duties for Burroughs will be seniors Toby Ho, Albert Prado, junior Rory Freck and sophomore Devan McGivern.
A key returner is senior Brian Garcia, who will play second base. Sophomore Aidan Cremarosa could also see time at second.
“The one thing I will say about this team is that we have great leadership,” Magallon said. “The guys who have become our leaders certainly make my job easier.”
Also returning is senior utility Ricky Perez, who played for the Indians before transferring to Village Christian. Doing the catching will be sophomore Mason Medina. In the outfield will be Freck, sophomore David Mena Garcia and senior Johnny Angel.
Magallon said he expects tough competition in the Pacific League.
“We are going to try and compere with everyone. That’s what we have to do,” he said. “I think we have the talent to do well. The key for us is execution.
“Right now, Arcadia has to be the team to beat because they are the champs. We just want to be able to get to the playoffs. Being in Division V, I think if we can get to the playoffs we can make some noise.”
The Pioneers are looking to rebound and have their sights set on making the playoffs after missing out on the postseason for the first time in four seasons.
In 2019, Providence had a 2-17 record and was last in its inaugural season in the Prep League with an 0-12 mark.
“We have seven freshmen on our team this year that are locked into the lineup right away,” Contreras said. “And I have a group of returning juniors who are going to play a big role in getting these younger guys acclimated to the high school style.
“With the juniors we have some arms and they have some experience. So, I’m hoping that’s going to help us this year. We are just looking to balance things out. Those young guys are baseball dudes, so that helps out.”
A key returner for the Pioneers is returning pitcher/utility Gunner Pratt. He is tabbed to be the team’s ace.
Other players who will be looked upon to contribute are freshman pitcher/shortstop Evan Jaquez, freshman third base/catcher Matthew Dorfman and junior pitcher/utility Daneil DMaggio.
“They are looking to get better and they are putting in that work in order to get better,” Contreras said. “I’m happy with our progression so far.”
Contreras expects to have a better showing this season in league, despite some tough expected competition.
“We know what the Prep League has to offer now and we’re hoping to play right in the middle, get some [wins] in league and maybe have some good efforts,” Contreras said. “We just need to grind for those wins.”