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The Times 1996 All-conty Baseball Team

June 04, 1996

Player: Michael Garner

Position: Pitcher

School: Fullerton

Year: Sr.

No pitcher was supposed to stand up to the ceaseless barrage of hitting that defined the 1996 season. Garner not only stood up, he stood out. A 6-0, 165-pound left-hander with a moving fastball and devastating curve, he led the county in earned-run average and strikeouts. He has accepted a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton.

1996 pitching record

IP: 82 2/3

W-L: 10-2

SO: 125

BB: 28

ERA: 0.42

*

Player: Mike Hessman

Position: First Baseman

School: Mater Dei

Year: Sr.

The county's co-home run leader for the second consecutive season (last year he tied Brito and La Quinta's Craig Kuzmic with 12) was the hub of one of the county's toughest lineups. Just as important, Hessman's pitching--9-0, 2.10 earned-run average--helped the Monarchs end the regular season as the county's top-ranked team.

1996 batting record

AB: 81

H: 33

HR: 11

RBI: 30

BA: .407

*

Player: Kevin Burford

Position: Outfielder

School: Fountain Valley

Year: Jr.

Burford has the best swing Coach Ron La Ruffa said he has seen in his 14 years as Fountain Valley coach--and a swing some pro scouts say is the best in the county. He set a school record for home runs (11) and set Sunset League records in home runs (eight) and average (.524). He led the Barons to a third consecutive Division I championship game.

1996 batting record

AB: 85

H: 33

HR: 11

RBI: 38

AVG: .388

*

Player: Steve Schenewerk

Position: Pitcher

School: Fountain Valley

Year: Sr.

He could not break into Fountain Valley's rotation last season because of Dan Keller (now at UCLA) and Luke Hudson (now at Tennessee). But in his senior year, Schenewerk equaled the county record for victories held by Andy Messersmith, Jim Livernois and Craig Jones. The total was also 60% of the Barons' victories.

1996 pitching record

IP: 85 1/3

W-L: 15-2

SO: 92

BB: 39

ERA: 1.48

*

Player: Kenny La Point

Position: Infielder

School: Marina

Year: Jr.

The bright spot in a down season for the Vikings. La Point, who transferred from Woodbridge, led Marina in every offensive category except stolen bases. But it wasn't only his bat; La Point also pitched and made only three errors in the field. "His best feature--despite his talent--he doesn't consider himself as special," Coach Paul Renfrow said.

1996 batting record

AB: 73

H: 26

HR: 6

RBI: 20

BA: .356

*

Player: Jhamal Dawkins

Position: Outfielder

School: La Quinta

Year: Jr.

A gifted athlete who has played football, basketball and wrestling at La Quinta. His baseball talents have scouts wondering if Dawkins might even be better than his brother, Walter, who played at USC and is in the Phillies' organization. Coach Dave Demarest says he has "unlimited potential; it depends on how bad he wants to be as good as he can be."

1996 batting record

AB: 98

H: 42

HR: 4

RBI: 33

BA: .429

*

Player: Joe Fraser

Position: Pitcher

School: Katella

Year: Sr.

Fraser was the premier power pitcher in the county. Although he struggled with his control at times, Fraser's 90-plus mph fastball whizzed past more hitters better than any pitcher not named Garner. Fraser also, in the words of Coach Tom McMenamin, "won every important game for us" as the Knights took a third consecutive Empire League title.

1996 pitching record

IP: 81 1/3

W-L: 10-2

SO: 105

BB: 50

ERA: 2.15

*

Player: Ryan Owens

Position: Infielder

School: Sonora

Year: Sr.

The leading slugger on a team that set a county record in team home runs with 43, Owens, who has a scholarship to Cal State Fullerton, also set school records in runs scored and home runs by a shortstop. He also had six saves as a closer. "I'd rank him among the top two players I have coached here," Coach Pat Tellers said.

1996 batting record

AB: 88

H: 44

HR: 10

RBI: 28

BA: .500

*

Player: Paul Caffrey

Position: Designated Hitter

School: Heritage Christian

Year: So.

It's a good thing Caffrey will have two more years to match his amazing sophomore season. All he did in 1996 was establish county single-season records in batting average and RBIs, plus a county and Southern Section record for triples with 13. These could be the first of many records held by Caffrey by the time his career ends.

1996 batting record

AB: 77

H: 46

HR: 2

RBI: 56

BA: .597

*

Player: Rik Currier

Position: Pitcher

School: Capistrano Valley

Year: Jr.

After a tremendous sophomore season that included eight wins and an 0.49 ERA, everyone waited to see if Currier was a one-season wonder. Instead he proved to be the real thing, with a no-hitter and Mater Dei's only South Coast League defeat among his accomplishments. Currier's bat was potent, too, leading the Cougars in RBIs.

1996 pitching record

IP: 71 2/3

W-L: 9-3

SO: 97

BB: 27

ERA: 1.56

*

Player: David Miller

Position: Infielder

School: Sonora

Year: Sr.

Like his teammate, Miller personified power in the Sonora lineup. But he was more than just a slugger, setting school records in hits and RBIs and tying Brito for the county's second best average. As a pitcher, Miller was 8-1 with a 1.96 earned-run average. Just a half-swing behind Hessman as the county's best two-way player.

1996 batting record

AB: 81

H: 43

HR: 8

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