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THE PREPS / ERIC SHEPARD

March 28, 1995|ERIC SHEPARD

A look at The Times' preseason top 20 poll for high school baseball teams in the City and Southern sections, with division, last season's record and comment by Times prep editor Eric Shepard.

1. FOUNTAIN VALLEY

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 27-3, beat Lakewood, 3-2, in Div. I final.

* Outlook: The Barons have most of their starting lineup back from last season, when they finished as the state's top-ranked team. Included is senior pitcher Luke Hudson, who was 8-1 with a 1.32 earned-run average last year.

2. LONG BEACH MILLIKAN

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 15-11, lost to Santa Monica, 3-1, in Division I first round.

* Outlook: Coming off a rare disappointing season, the Rams expect to contend for a title again. They have one of the area's deepest pitching staffs, led by seniors Eric Ireland and Greg Moore. Ireland was 4-2 last season with a 2.19 ERA.

3. LA PUENTE BISHOP AMAT

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 26-1, lost to Hacienda Heights Los Altos, 3-2, in Div. III second round.

* Outlook: The Lancers have finished spectacular regular seasons the last two years with early exits in the playoffs. A jump from Division III to I will not make things easier, but the team still has the players to contend. Watch for junior pitcher Eric Valenzuela, 11-0 with a 0.56 ERA last season.

4 PLACENTIA EL DORADO

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 21-8, lost to Crescenta Valley, 4-3, in Div. I quarterfinals.

* Outlook: There will not be the annual rivalry between El Dorado and Anaheim Esperanza in the Empire League this season. Esperanza moved to the Sunset League, opening the door for the Golden Hawks. The team should flourish with senior pitcher Don Jamieson, 11-0 with a 2.16 ERA last season.

5. CHATSWORTH

City Section Division 4-A

* Last season: 28-5, lost to Woodland Hills El Camino Real, 7-6, in Div. 4-A final.

* Outlook: Besides having three starters back, the Chancellors bolstered their title chances with the addition of two other key players. Senior pitcher Harry Kenoi is back after sitting out last season because of an arm injury, and first baseman Jon Tucker is a transfer from Mission Hills Alemany.

6. LA PUENTE NOGALES

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 21-7, lost to Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 3-0, in Div. I quarterfinals.

* Outlook: The Nobles won the rugged Sierra League title last season, and with eight returning starters are favorites to repeat. Although pitching experience is a concern, the team has plenty of hitting with outfielder Larry Haynes (.370) and third baseman George Martinez (.378).

7. LAKEWOOD

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 24-7, lost to Fountain Valley, 3-2, in Div. I final.

* Outlook: Coach Spud O'Neil is hoping a young team can repeat last season's feat. It will not be easy with only two returning starters, but one of them is first baseman Matt Dempsey, who batted .353 with 28 runs batted in as a junior.

8. PALOS VERDES PENINSULA

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 16-11, lost to Mater Dei, 3-0, in Div. I second round.

* Outlook: Garry Poe, who has been coaching high school baseball for 29 years, says this team may be one of his finest. Five starters return from a squad that finished 12-0 in the Bay League last season. Among them are senior designated hitter Dan Secrist and senior outfielder Andy Jensen.

9. SANTA ANA MATER DEI

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 18-9-1, lost to Lakewood, 8-5, in Div. I quarterfinals.

* Outlook: Mater Dei is not just a football and basketball power anymore. The Monarchs should make baseball noise as well this season. Watch for senior shortstop Brad Ticehurst, who batted .427 with six home runs last year.

10. WEST TORRANCE

Southern Section Division I

* Last season: 25-6, lost to Westminster La Quinta, 3-1, in Div. III final.

* Outlook: Like Bishop Amat, the Warriors jump from Division III to I this season. The move should not affect West Torrance, however, because it regularly fills its nonleague schedule with traditional powers. This year's team is led by outfielder Jim Yates and pitcher Krik Bolling.

11. QUARTZ HILL

Southern Section Division III

* Last season: 11-13, did not qualify for the playoffs.

* Outlook: The Rebels are a surprise pick, but with seven returning starters, the team should prevail in an improved Golden League. Catcher Jon Smith batted .394 last season, and pitcher Darrell Hussman figures to be more of a force.

12. CORONA

Southern Section Division III

* Last season: 22-7, lost to La Quinta, 4-3, in Div. II semifinals.

* Outlook: For the second year in a row, Corona has one of the area's top players. Last season, it was outfielder Mike Darr, who was drafted in the second round by Detroit. This year, it is pitcher/third baseman Randy Knoll, who was 4-1 and batted .400 as a junior.

13. LA HABRA SONORA

Southern Section Division II

* Last season: 12-13, did not qualify for the playoffs.

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