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It's Time to Play Ball : Among the Leaders, La Quinta's Paulsen Is the One to Watch

March 12, 1986|GERALD SCOTT | Times Staff Writer

So often in high school baseball, the team leader is the pitcher, catcher or shortstop.

He's usually the team's best athlete, and he tends to put in more practice time than most of his teammates because he has more at stake, such as the opportunity for a college scholarship or a professional contract.

And he almost always is a good contact hitter, spraying singles against the fastball pitchers that other teammates might swing and miss against.

If you're keeping score, mark Troy Paulsen 3 for 3 in these categories in your La Quinta High School baseball program.

Paulsen, a senior shortstop for the Aztecs, is emerging as the player to watch this season not only in the Garden Grove League, but throughout Orange County.

With Paulsen, a 6-foot 180-pounder, it isn't so much the .413 batting average from last season, the good glove and the strong arm that is impressive, but rather his character.

"He is a good one, and with the good ones, you never seem to have to get after them, even when they make a mistake," Demerest said. "He just loves the game and that makes him so easy to coach. He's willing to work for his success."

From Vern Nelson, Bolsa Grande coach: "Paulsen's probably as good a player as we've had around here in some time. He's the kind of player you build your program around.

"If you're a college coach or scout, he's a kid you'd want to look at. He's a good offensive player--he's hurt us, that's for sure."

Paulsen had 4 triples, 6 doubles, 16 walks and 21 runs batted in last season.

Such past success could satisfy some, but not Paulsen. He wants his senior season to be spectacular by his estimation.

"I think I can compete with anybody when I'm playing well--it's just a matter of doing your best and not worrying about the crowd or your stats or whatever," Paulsen said. "Just the score. And I'm playing confident right now."

Paulsen is looking to the future these days, considering a contract or scholarship is on the horizon, but regardless of what happens in his career, he already has some baseball stories to tell.

Ask him about the time he had to face Sunny Hills fastballer Paul Abbott last season, and he says: "We played them the first game of the year and at that time nobody had really heard of Abbott.

"We saw how hard he was throwing in warmups and we all said, 'Wow, what did we do to deserve this guy?' We beat him, though."

Or when he suffered a broken bone in his foot as a sophomore, and the treatment he used in recuperation: "I just ran in the pool every day. That's right--ran. Just put on some old tennis shoes and hopped in and trotted around. Kept my legs strong and the foot healed right up."

Paulsen, who is healthy today, hopes the work will pay off this spring.

"There's been a lot of anticipation for this (senior year)," Paulsen said. "I've been waiting for it and waiting for it."

And now that it's here, Paulsen is nonetheless wary of his biggest enemy, and it's not a hanging curveball or fielding a short hopper with two men on base.

Rather, it's in trying too hard.

Or, to use Paulsen's word, to exercise discipline .

Paulsen spits out that word in much the same manner that some of his peers might say homework , but if Paulsen shows good discipline this season, the future, in the form of a college or pro offer, should be his.

Other county players to watch this season, in alphabetical order:

Phil Chess (Ocean View) 6-2 1/2, 185, right fielder--Chess hit .320 and was second-team, All-Sunset League last year as the Seahawks' No. 4 hitter. He'll bat fourth and should provide Ocean View with good power.

Emmitt Cohick (Esperanza) 6-1, 165, left fielder--A .300 hitter who is excellent defensively, Cohick should help the Aztecs become one of the county's best teams.

Eric Cox (Esperanza) 6-2, 180, catcher--Considered by many scouts as the county's leading professional catching prospect, Cox hit .395 with 4 home runs last year and threw out 15 of the 20 baserunners who attempted to steal off of him.

Bob Doran (Mission Viejo) 6-1, 175, second baseman--The strong-armed infielder visited Pepperdine, Arizona and Arizona State. He hit .364 last year to help the Diablos advance to the Southern Section 2-A championship game.

Jim Doyle (Fountain Valley) 5-9, 170, third baseman--Doyle hit .400 (40 for 100) last season with only one strikeout. He also made only one error last season. Hawaii, Arizona, and Brigham Young have expressed an interest in Doyle, who has a 3.9 grade-point average.

Richard Faulks (El Toro) 6-2, 185, pitcher--Went 7-4 last season with a 1.67 ERA. Scouts say Faulks, a left-hander, often forces opposing hitters to beat the ball into the ground. Being recruited by Chapman College, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State.

Todd French (Canyon) 6-2, 180, catcher--A star quarterback, French also is an outstanding catcher. French hit .284 last season and has started this season at .364, including two doubles. French carries a 4.0 grade-point average.

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