COACH: David Rhoades, 3rd season
LAST SEASON: 10-11; 2nd in league, 7-5
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Moorpark's strength lies in an experienced infield and catcher. All five players return. Senior catcher Jake Flesher (.375, 14 runs batted in), a three-year starter who will attend Pepperdine in the fall on a partial scholarship, will bat either third or fifth. Around the horn are third baseman Eddie Romero (.318), shortstop Richard Hernandez, second baseman Doyle Ritchie and first baseman Rob Walker. Romero made only two errors in league play last season. Ritchie, who will bat second, hit .305 and has become a switch-hitter. Hernandez, a three-sport athlete who logged 14 innings as a reliever, is the most experienced pitcher. Sophomore left-hander Mike Vasquez and junior right-hander Ken Ditto--each 7-1 as a starter for the junior varsity--are probable starters. Ditto throws hard, Vasquez shuffles off-speed stuff. Sophomore Jason Adamson, who hit three home runs on the freshman team, will play right field, pitch and bat cleanup. Juniors Ricky Nuno and Brandon Garrettson, up from the junior varsity, will start in the outfield.
OUTLOOK: Moorpark has the most inexperienced pitching in the league. "Pitching is our biggest weakness," Rhoades acknowledged. If the Musketeer staff can induce ground balls, experienced hands in the infield should take care of the rest.
COACH: Mike Bolyog, 1st season
LAST SEASON: 12-8; 2nd in league, 7-5
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior right-hander Jeff Gibbons ranks among the best pitchers in the league. Gibbons (7-1 last season) has a variety of pitches and excellent control, Bolyog said. Gibbons, a .339 hitter last season, also will play infield and bat leadoff. Junior submarining right-hander Eric Kane (2-1, 19 2/3 innings), the varsity's No. 3 pitcher last season, and senior right-hander Eric Pryor (3-6, 52 2/3 innings), the starting shortstop, join Gibbons on the pitching staff. Pryor batted .384 last year. Junior Damian Delfino, a spray hitter, will play center field and bat fifth or sixth. He also will serve as a reliever. Junior catcher Damin Sterling "has the quickest release for a high school catcher I have ever seen," Bolyog said. Third baseman Jesse Spradling (.300) is a senior and returning starter. Second baseman Mike Michaud, the team's only left-handed hitter, is another senior and returning starter.
OUTLOOK: Bolyog, who made two trips to the Southern Section quarterfinals and one to the semifinals as coach at Villanova Prep from 1981-89, said the Eagles will hustle. "We're going to be aggressive," he said.
COACH: Dennis Johnson, 5th season
LAST SEASON: 12-9; 1st in league, 8-4
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With five starters returning, St. Bonaventure is the early favorite to repeat as league champion. Junior catcher John McNamara (6-foot-3, 197), who batted .347 last season, soon will be on every scout's list, Johnson said. Senior right-hander Jeff Wright (5-5, 2.72 earned-run average, five saves) is the No. 1 starter and also will play second base. Either senior Geoff Pableo, who batted .283 and is a solid third baseman, or senior right-hander Trevor Haba (1.42 ERA in 20 innings) will be the No. 2 starter. Sophomore left-hander Brad Burnett also will be used. Junior shortstop Gino Nucci, perhaps the best athlete in the school, Johnson said, and senior first baseman Jon Marshall (.277 last season) round out the five returning starters. Senior Jose Payan, who batted .286 in limited duty last season, will be the designated hitter and part-time second baseman. Seniors Mike Gray and Jeremy Brown, and juniors Justin Smiley, Jason Vines and Paul Penza will get playing time as an all-new outfield.
OUTLOOK: Experience will go a long way on a team that already knows how to win. The Seraphs had a .290 team batting average last season and the meat of the lineup returns. "If we stay away from any injuries, we should be very competitive," Johnson said.