3/12/2011 4:57:56 PM
Leading Off: Which team that looked to be down after being hit hard by graduation has been a pleasant surprise by finding a way to maintain their level of play?
Todd Gold: Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) lost C Konnor Armijo (Santa Anna), RHP Mickey Dunleavy (Irvine Valley) and CIF Southern Section Player of the Year OF/LHP Cory Hahn from their 2010 CIF Southern Section championship squad that allowed just 5 total runs in the playoffs. I had expected that their inexperience would cause them to struggle a bit this year as they play in one of the best leagues in California, if not the nation. But a 6-2-2 start thus far leads me to believe that they have a chance to compete with Trinity League powers JSerra, Orange Lutheran and Servite for a league championship. They did drop their first game against Orange Lutheran, but impressive wins over Mission Viejo and San Clemente suggest Mater Dei could be a darkhorse contender to repeat as Trinity League Champions.
C Ryan Teel, OF/RHP Ty Moore, MIF/RHP Blake Thomsen and sophomore SS/RHP Davis Tominaga have really stepped up for the Monarchs thus far. Moore has been on fire at the plate and was hitting .692 through his first four games (9-for-13) and delivered a big performance on the mound in the win against Mission Viejo. Moore combined with Hahn on the first ever perfect game in a CIF Championship game against Dana Hills last year. Head Coach Burt Call is in his 17th season at Mater Dei and clearly he knows how to develop ballplayers, and has done a great job with this current group.
Ben Collman: Barbe (LA) lost as much talented as anyone in the country last year. Garin Cecchini, Hommy Rosado, and Kevin Berard were selected in the MLB draft, while Brandon Broussard and Paul White are now playing at LSU-Eunice and Ouachita Baptist Christian.
Barbe has come back strong in 2011 with their only losses coming 3-2 against #14 Catholic, and 7-4 against Parkview Baptist and Auburn commit Colin Rodgers. The key has been SSGavin Cecchini who took a big part of the offensive load last year when older brother Garin was sidelined with a knee injury. Cecchini has been on fire this year and is helped by arguably the best freshman class in the nation led by Kennon Fontenot and Trey Quinn. Coach Glenn Cecchini can also count on the arms of Taylor Butler, Sam Smith along with 2B Jared Foster to provide the pitching and leadership needed to overcome their losses.
2 Hole: What new addition will have the biggest impact this season?
BC: Bishop Verot (FL) looked to have a strong team in 2011 with the return of Florida commitDaniel Vogelbach, DJ Schleicher, Keith Ryan, and Nick Rivera from a team that won 20 games and made it to the 3A Elite Eight in 2010. That was before the transfer of RHP Hudson Boyd (previously at South Fort Myers), which has pushed the Vikings into the discussion of best team in Florida and may make them the favorite in 3A.
Bishop Verot has gotten off to a 9-0 start this season, and Boyd has been lights-out, striking out 39 in 16 innings, including a 15 strikeout performance in a combined no-hitter against Neumann, and another 15 strikeout performance against LaBelle.. Committed to Florida, Boyd has proven to be one of the top arms in the state and along with the bat of Vogelbach, make the Vikings a team no one wants to face. They will get their first big test against #27 Jesuit tonight, and will also play in the Sarasota Baseball Classic early next week, squaring off against some of the best teams in Florida.
TG: TG: Spring Valley (SC) RHP Taylor Guerreri is probably the best player to transfer this year. But probably the biggest impact transfer would probably have to be RHP/1B Nick Travieso. Travieso’s addition to an already very good Archbishop McCarthy (FL) roster makes them a legitimate contender in 4A. The Mavericks also feature 2B/RHP Alex Fernandez, 3B/RHP Jose Brizuela, SS Nick Basto and RHP Ryan Castellanos. The Mavericks are off to a 9-1 start and have been one of the most prolific offenses in the country thus far, racking up 110 runs in their first 10 games. They probably would be winning games without Travieso at this point, but come playoff time his presence in the lineup and arm will likely make the difference against a fellow powerhouse.
Clutch Tim: With the season just about to get underway in many parts of the country, which pre-season favorite will get the biggest test?
TG: Probably the most exciting battle should come from Washington. Redmond looks like the favorite and feature a pair of big time prospects in RHP/OF Dylan Davis and OF Michael Conforto. But they’re going to be challenged by King County rival Newport. Newport boasts RHP Cole Wiper and RHP/1B Jared Fisher. When these two teams meet on March 28th and April 27th you can bet there will a lot of MLB scouts on hand. A couple other teams in Washington that also could make a claim for best team in Washington (and the Northwest Region) are Shorewood and WF West. Shorewood has the pitching to compete with Newport and Redmond, the question mark is their offense beyond Trevor Mitsui. WF West is a bit young, but they do have a very talented senior in 2B Eric Forgione.
It will be a fun state to follow and opening day is just two days away!
BC: Illinois has had ten champions in the past ten years in their biggest class (AA from 2001-2007, 4A since 2008). The state looks to be wide open again with a couple of dozen schools having a legitimate title shot, something not many states can claim. The early favorite may be #30 Providence Catholic and their six D1 commits. Or it may be Downers Grove South behind the state’s best pitcher, Nick Burdi. St. Rita also has to be in the discussion, with the pitching trio of LHP Joe Filomeno (Louisville commit), RHP Nico Zych (Tennessee-Martin), and RHP Eddie Delariva (Purdue).Naperville Central is the defending champion and have LHP Dan Ludwig, 2009 champion New Trier has the top position player in the state in OF Charlie Tilson. The depth of the Chicago-land area is staggering and it also features some of the country’s toughest conferences. Other top rated schools coming into the year are Stevenson, Mt. Carmel, Brother Rice, and Oak Park River Forest, with apologies to a number of other schools that deserve mention. Illinois play gets underway Monday, March 14.