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The Hite of the game

Mike Sciacca

Blake Hite’s hard work on the baseball field this summer has paid

off for the Laguna Beach High School student athlete.

Hite, who in two weeks will be entering his senior year on the

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hill, recently returned from Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta,

where he played with the Orange County Dawgs in the Super Series

baseball tournament.

The nationally-renowned event, considered the premiere tournament

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in the country for the top eight travel/club teams, attracted 10

teams nationwide and featured some of the best players age 16 and

under.

Hite, who played in Mickey Mantle Baseball’s 16-and-under Division

during the summer, was selected by the Dawgs coaching staff as one of

the top players in the area.

“It was an awesome experience to play against some of the top

players in my age group from around the country,” Hite said. “The

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level of play was incredible and I’m glad to have had the opportunity

to play in the tournament.”

The Orange County Dawgs were comprised of players from Orange,

Riverside and Los Angeles counties. The 16-player roster, which

included players from county schools Villa Park, Foothill, Santa

Margarita, Northwood, Corona del Mar, Canyon, La Quinta and Mater

Dei, was under the direction of manager/coach Craig Jurczyk, head

coach of the Dawgs’ Connie Mack 18-and-under team, and fellow coaches

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Cory Williams of Santa Ana College and Chris Wilson.

The Dawgs, who won the Super Series tournament title last year and

were the runner-up in 2000, lost their first two tournament games but

rebounded to win their final three and finish in third place overall.

The Dawgs were only able to practice twice as an All-Star team

before they departed for Atlanta.

Hite saw pitching action, and also played some at third base.

“Blake has really impressed me a lot this past year,” said

Jurczyk, who had the opportunity to work in the off-season with Hite

and his fellow Laguna Beach teammates on infield techniques.

Hite was Laguna Beach High’s “Mr. Utility” this past spring. He

played a little at every infield position except at shortstop, played

two outfield positions, pitched and played catcher when Artists

starter Ian Baumer was lost to injury.

Hite filled in quite admirably for Baumer, who went on to earn a

scholarship to play at San Jose State University.

As for his tag of “Mr. Utility,” Hite says he enjoys playing the

role.

“It makes it more fun although it’s a bit more challenging,” he

said. “I feel like I’m helping the team any way that I can when I’m

put at several positions.”

Hite, who said he batted at either the No. 7 or No. 2 spot in the

Laguna Beach lineup, finished the 2002 prep baseball season with a

.393 batting average with one home run.

He also led the team in defensive fielding percentage despite

playing seven different positions. He went on to be named to the

Pacific Coast League’s Honorable Mention team.

Following a successful junior campaign, Hite went on to enjoy

further success this summer playing with the Dawgs’ Mickey Mantle

team and high school American Legion team.

He says he’s at the ballpark nearly every day, working on his

game. Lifting, running sprints, taking infield and hitting are all

part of his daily routine.

“The reason why I asked him to be a part of the Orange County

Dawgs and play in the Super Series tournament was because I witnessed

Blake making a huge effort to work on his game and develop as a

person,” Jurczyk said.

Hite says he’d love nothing more than to land a Division I

baseball scholarship. UNLV is one school that already has expressed

some interest. But as he begins to enter his senior year at Laguna

Beach High, he already has his goals in place for the 2003 season

that is still six months away.

“We had a good season last year but I want us to do even better

next year,” he added. “My main goal is to have this team win CIF. We

have a really good team coming back, and I think, if we work hard, we

can make that a reality.”


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