Outlook: The Matadors finished a respectable fifth among nine teams last season after a rocky start. Mt. Miguel again got off slowly this season, committing 27 errors leading to 38 unearned runs in losing six of its first seven. Ethridge, who was ineligible last season, was an all-conference running back who is headed to Weber State on a football scholarship. Trigs will be relying on several football players. Keith Baldwin, a speedy wide receiver, will be in the outfield, and lineman Doug Kemp will catch. Kemp hit .292 last season, and Simms was 2-1 with a save and a 3.67 ERA.
EL CAJON VALLEY
Last season's record: 7-19, 3-13 league (ninth).
Coach: Doug Hartung.
Top returners: Chris Holder (senior, 2B); Jack Kaewpalug (senior, P); Kevin Davis (senior, 3B).
Top newcomers: Jason Firsich (junior, P); Fred Ernst (senior CF).
Outlook: The Braves had a solid pitching staff last year but no offense to back it up. But they have gained in experience, losing just one senior, and could climb out of the league cellar. A senior infield could be the key. Hartung hopes Kaewpalug will be joined by Firsich in the rotation by midseason. The transfer from Northern California injured his pitching elbow in a tournament game and is out for three weeks.
Last season's record: 17-9, 12-4 league (second).
Coach: Jeff Meredith.
Top returners: Mark Gapski (senior, P); Todd Cadi (sophomore, C).
Top newcomers: Jim Early (junior, DH); John Tatum (junior, 3B).
Outlook: Meredith said he has made so many changes as Grossmont's new coach that the only thing staying the same is the uniforms. He inherited a team with great talent, especially in Gapski, who began the season 3-0, and Cadi, who made the all-league team as a freshman. The Foothillers have hit 12 home runs in five games. Grossmont is still shaky on defense but should again contend for the title.
Last season's record: 23-8, 11-5 league (third).
Coach: Jim Saska.
Top returners: Darren Forester (senior, 3B); Kyle Sebach (senior, SS); Paul Newark (senior P/1B).
Top newcomers: Tom Weimbrecht (junior, 2B); Matt Hill (senior, P).
Outlook: The talent returns, but Saska says the fundamentals are still a little rusty. He is impressed with Newark's pitching and hitting but is waiting for Sebach to break out of a slump. Santana's other two solid starting pitchers are newcomers Hill and Ferdie Hollis. Both are 2-0.
Last season's record: 8-19, 4-12 (eighth).
Coach: Terry Love.
Top returners: Mark Iveson (senior, P), Dave Angotti (senior, C), John Scurlock (senior, P).
Top newcomer: Tony Clark (junior, P).
Outlook: Love, the new coach, says Valhalla's biggest problem last year was attitude. His philosophy of playing more as a team has already proven successful with a 6-5-1 start. Clark, who hasn't played baseball for two years, returns as one of Valhalla's top pitchers. An outstanding switch-hitter, he will help Valhalla at the plate as well.