A preview of high school baseball teams in the Long Beach/Southeast area:
LAKEWOOD--Coach Spud O'Neil lost the first six hitters in his lineup from last year's 21-4 league-champion team, but the Lancers have one of the area's best pitchers in Mike McNary (13-2, 139 strikeouts last season). Reliever Troy Abato did not allow an earned run in 14 innings last year. Center fielder Damion Easley hit three homers in a preleague victory last week. Paul Graves, the top hitter on last year's JV team, will play second base.
MILLIKAN--Coach Dan Peters has seven lettermen back from a 15-12 team. Big bats are wielded by Jeff Heath (.333, 21 RBIs), Rick Fulton (.347) and Jason Von Arx (.341, 12 stolen bases). The pitchers are Phil Kendall (5-4 last year) and Bob Crane (2-3). Peters expects the Rams to challenge Lakewood for the league title.
WILSON--Back are two all-league players: shortstop/outfielder Robbie Bailey, who hit .345 and stole 15 bases last season, and catcher Tony Tijerina, who batted .350. The Bruins have one of their most talented teams in recent years, but their success probably depends on pitchers Todd Forman, Tim Spencer and Mike Smith.
POLY--The Jackrabbits have a new field and pretty much of a new team. Coach Joe Perrucio will have to depend mostly on sophomores, but he does have a senior all-league returnee in center fielder Lolo James. Five other all-leaguers graduated.
JORDAN--Coach Bill Powell's top Panthers are outfielder Emory Heard, who led the team in hits last season; outfielder Rich Argueta, first baseman Todd White and pitchers Rick Burge, Joe Musick and Bob Cratty.
COMPTON--The Tarbabes have won only two league games in three seasons. Top players are pitcher/shortstop Rafael Avila; catcher Rick Haro, who hit .328 last year, and third baseman Lorenzo Redick, who hit .357.
SG Valley League
CERRITOS--The Dons were 13-12 last year, missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. That's not likely to happen this year, however. Seven starters return, including all-league shortstop Trevor Eldridge (.365) and first baseman/second baseman Matt Mosiello (.323). Two talented newcomers are sophomore outfielders Aaron Norwood and Coby Cradle. Pitching is suspect, although left-hander Joey Banks and right-hander Rick Kaiser are experienced starters.
GAHR--The Gladiators have given Coach Tom Bergeron headaches so far by allowing 7, 5 and 3 runs each in the first inning of three losses because of walks and errors. The Gladiators, who are hiting better than Bergeron expected, have a good prospect in sophomore center fielder Mark Charbonnett and a solid catcher in senior Aaron Hoosac. Bergeron believes the San Gabriel Valley League is down in player quality this year and any of six teams could win the title.
PARAMOUNT--Returning players for Coach Rodney Davis's Pirates, who finished second in the league last year, are all-league pitcher Juan Torres (6-2, 1.08 earned run average) and all-league catcher John Van Raay, who batted .310.
DOWNEY--Coach Fred Yanez, in his 19th year, has six starters back from last year's 8-13 team. Top players are shortstop Ed Renteria and utility man Horacio Casillas.
WARREN--The Bears have a bear at first base in 6-5, 240-pound David Main, who hit .378 and was all-league last year. Infielder Ole Jimenez is another returning all-leaguer. Pitchers are Ray Winick, Glenn Yamasaki and Scott Biehn, who also plays third base for the Downey school.
DOMINGUEZ--The Dons, 7-9 last season, are a young team, led by junior shortstop Jaime Navarette, who hit .325 in 1986. Navarette had four hits, including a homer, in a recent 23-4 rout of Centennial.
LYNWOOD--First-year Coach John Bridges has a lot of speedy players on his team but no big hitter. Top players back from last season are pitcher/outfielder Mauricio Villalobos, pitcher Santos Carillo and pitcher John Enriquez. The Knights were 1-11 and last in the league last year.
GLENN--The Eagles of Norwalk, 18-8 last year, lack hitting and defense but their pitching is outstanding. Leading the staff are Shawn McDow, who was 11-2 last year with a 1.49 ERA, and another right-hander, Manny Ramirez (4-2, 2.25). Coach Boyd Trimble picks his team to win the league.
LA MIRADA--Eric Brooks, who pitches, catches, hit .403 and drove in 25 runs last year, is back to lead the Matadors. First baseman Todd Andre and left fielder Craig Fairbrother, who were all-league last year, also return for Coach Mike Knapp.
ARTESIA--Most of last year's 2-A champions are gone, but Coach Tony Guggiana has two stars back in outfielder Vic Matos (.355, 4 home runs) and pitcher Brian Smith (5-2, 3.75 ERA). They will have to carry an otherwise inexperienced team. Sophomore Joel Adamson is a promising pitcher who can hit, too.
NORWALK--The Lancers gained experience during a 5-13-1 season in 1986. They are led by all-league catcher Sal Villanueva, who hit .310 last year. One of the pitchers will be Tony Perez.