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County : HIGH SCHOOLS

Quartz Hill's West Turns Into Slugger

April 05, 1998

Entering this season, senior Ryan West was supposed to be the top run producer for Quartz Hill High's baseball team, but nobody could have expected what he has done.

West has nine home runs in 11 games and has homered in six consecutive games.

He hit two home runs last season.

"I knew he would be our power guy, but I didn't know he'd have this much power," Coach David Stradling said.

"Nobody could predict that."

Stradling said that there is nothing cheap about any of West's home runs, citing the 430-foot blast he hit against Highland last week.

"He hits the ball as well as anyone in [the Antelope] Valley in a long time," Stradling said.

"The fastball he hits hard and he hits the curveball just as hard."

It's always something: In recent years, Ventura fielded baseball teams that could score but had no pitching, or that could pitch and hit but had trouble fielding.

This season, the Cougars have three good pitchers but can't hit or run the bases to Coach Dan Smith's satisfaction.

"I have four guys in my lineup who I pinch-run for every time they get on base," Smith said. "I have eight guys over 200 pounds. We look like a football offensive line, not a baseball team."

Pitchers Jason Branch, Donnie Fuller and Mike Askay each average more than a strikeout per inning.

Branch and Fuller combined to strike out 16 batters in a game and Askay, who is being recruited by Pepperdine, struck out seven of the first eight batters he faced in a game.

TRACK AND FIELD

Stopped on their tracks: The Ventura boys' 400 relay team didn't run in the Pasadena Games at Occidental College on March 28 because Coach Joe Beattie said a meet official refused to let them onto the track for the race.

Pasadena Muir, San Diego University City and Notre Dame finished 1-2-3 in the event.

"They said that they had checked in," Beattie said.

"But when they went to enter the track, the other teams had already entered and the woman working the gate wouldn't let them in."

Ventura wasn't considered a contender in the race, but Beattie said it would have been nice to run against high-quality competition.

Coming on strong: Blaine Bussey of Taft High surprisingly won the boys' 400 in the Pasadena Games, but Toreador assistant Kenny Mitchell took it in stride.

Bussey, a junior, trailed teammates Larry and Lawrence Jones and Notre Dame's Rod Arzu entering the homestretch before clocking a personal best of 48.67 to edge Arzu (48.70), Larry Jones (48.71) and Lawrence Jones (48.87).

"Larry went out like he was trying to break the school record [46.67 by Quincy Watts in 1988], but Blaine ran a good race," Mitchell said. "He'll run 48 flat by the end of the season."

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