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THE HIGH SCHOOLS / VINCE KOWALICK

The Silence Was Broken and So Was The No-Hitter

March 17, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK

It goes without saying, when your team's pitcher is working on a no-hitter, keep your mouth shut. True to one of baseball's most-sacred superstitions, all players were mum in the Calabasas High dugout Friday as senior Tanner Trosper tried for a no-hitter in a Frontier League opener at Santa Clara.

Trosper, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-hander, retired the first two batters in the seventh inning, notching his sixth strikeout, while preparing to bring down the curtain on the Coyotes' 5-0 victory.

Trosper focused on the final batter, Vince Herrera, working the count to 3 and 2. Silent treatment or not, he was keenly aware of what was happening.

"No one really said anything," Trosper said. "I just knew. 'So did teammate Ricky Stockton, who it seems is not among the most-superstitious players.

Seconds before Trosper delivered the first pitch to Herrera, Stockton made a most-untimely utterance.

"He said, 'Guys, Tanner has a no-hitter!' " Trosper said. "Everyone was like 'Shut up, Ricky!' "

No sooner had the words left Stockton's lips than the ball left Herrera's bat. Reaching for an outside fastball, Herrera poked a triple to right field.

"I had that feeling like, 'Oh, no. He's gonna get a hit,' " Trosper said.

Trosper retired the side to salvage the shutout. But he missed out on every pitcher's dream.

Still, the opportunity might soon come again for Trosper (2-1 ), whose one-hitter was his second in as many starts. Trosper had 10 strikeouts last week in a 4-2 victory over El Camino Real.

No stranger to the spotlight, Trosper figures to be under even more scrutiny this season.

Last season, Trosper (5-0, 0.84 earned-run average) was among a trio of talented pitchers who led Calabasas to a 25-1 record and a league championship.

This season, with the departures of Brandon Cohen ( 10-0) and Jared Sandler (8-1), Trosper unmistakably is the team's ace.

"I felt a lot of pressure at the beginning of the season," Trosper said. "But that was before I realized we have other guys and it's a team sport."

Teammates teased Trosper, suggesting the pitcher should hold Stockton accountable for blabbing.

"They all said I should kick his butt," Trosper said. "But he said he was sorry and it's no big deal. No-hitter, one-hitter.. . . "

Trosper says he's not much for superstition, either. But his actions his actions speak louder than his words.

He admits complying to some ancient superstitions, such as not stepping on the foul line when walking between the dugout and mound. And he wears the same socks on the same feet during a game.

Not superstitious?

"Well," Trosper said. "You know.. .."

*

His name is Leppard and he throws hard. What would you expect?

Yet senior right-hander Bryant Leppard of Royal, whose brother Trevor pitched for Simi Valley and is a reliever at Oklahoma, might find a career hitting hard.

Leppard, 6-2 and 230 pounds, has three saves and 15 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings and also appears to be Division I material.

But Leppard has accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he plans to play football.

"That doesn't mean if something comes along in baseball I wouldn't consider it," Leppard said.

"I guess there are similarities between us. "We both throw hard."

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