This may be the year that the Laguna Beach High baseball team can accomplish big things.
“This process started three years ago," Coach Jeff Sears said. “Now it’s time to reap the benefits. We believe we’re a pretty good ballclub."
Laguna finished 14-14 last year, second in the Orange Coast League to Costa Mesa and lost in the CIF Southern Section Division IV first round to eventual-champion San Dimas. The Breakers have not won a league title in 47 years.
“We’re a baseball school, and our kids are starting to buy into that," Sears said. “I’m trying to create baseball players here."
The Breakers are 2-2 so far in the Newport-Elks Tournament, with a fifth and final game today. The biggest key returner to this year’s team is junior shortstop/pitcher Chris Paul, last year’s Orange Coast League Most Valuable Player when he batted .440 with team-highs of five home runs, 13 doubles and 32 runs batted in.
He’s one of two returning first-team all-league players; senior pitcher/first baseman Casey Miller hit .324 and was 6-5 with a 3.03 earned-run average last year as the team’s No. 1 pitcher.
Miller is already 2-0 this season after Wednesday’s 10-1 victory over Sunny Hills.
Senior catcher Spencer Friedrich returns from injury "” backed up by junior Taylor Preston "” and junior Tyler Pierce also plays first. The starting second baseman is junior Keaton Jones, a returning second-team all-league selection. The other second-team honoree from last year is senior left fielder Stevie Contursi.
Freshman third baseman Robbie McInerny is also someone to keep an eye on.
“He’s going to be very good," Sears said. “He works extremely hard."
Other starting outfielders include senior left fielder Jake Glazer, junior center fielder Austin Paxson and senior right fielder Mike Maxsenti. Senior Mike Opera will back up both center and right.
The Breakers play a doubleheader at Loara on Tuesday and open league at home against Godinez on Thursday.
“Costa Mesa returns everybody," Sears said. “There’s competition everywhere [in league]. You have to come ready to play day in and day out."