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1998 BASEBALL PREVIEW

Olympic League

March 03, 1998

* Brethren Christian: 22-8, 11-4 in 1997. Coach: Dave Posthuma (third year, 35-20). Prospects: The Warriors could not wrest the league championship from Calvary Chapel, but they did make it to the Division V final. Times all-county pitcher Jonathon Rouwenhorst (14-1, 1.52, 188 strikeouts) and all-county second-team designated hitter Aaron Ireland (.464, 14 home runs, 47 RBIs) had monster years. Both have graduated; but Posthuma has enough left to try again, providing the pitching matures. Aaron's brother and second-team all-league first baseman Sean Ireland (.430, six home runs, 35 RBIs), and pitcher-third baseman Brant Hoyzlett (.302, 3.43 ERA) highlight the four returning starters.

* Calvary Chapel: 19-7, 13-2 in 1997. Coach: Joe Walters (fifth year, 82-31). Prospects: Calvary Chapel has won two league titles, a 1995 Division V championship and reached the 1996 Division V semifinals. So when Walters says he might have his best team ever, it makes your ears perk up. What has Walters so excited is nine returning starters. The Eagles have the prerequisite all-league flamethrowers in John Tucker (9-6, 1.81, 71 strikeouts), and Mike Molina (7-0, 2.00, 42 strikeouts), plus a top newcomer in Brett Young who twice struck out 17 in junior varsity games. Young also pitched in the playoffs and recorded one of Calvary's two playoff victories. Catcher Dan Murrietta (.290, 20 RBIs) and shortstop Chad Sterbens (.468, 31 RBIs, 23 steals) can handle the bat. The Eagles could enter the top 10 before the season ends.

* Cerritos Valley Christian: 14-9, 10-5 in 1997. Coach: Roger Rosenthal (first year). Prospects: The Crusaders, traditionally a baseball power, slipped to third last season and might continue their fall in 1998. Rosenthal has three returning starters--third baseman Erick Streelman, catcher Lucas Eastler and second baseman Mark Garcia--and expects infielder Tim Browning to develop rapidly. But the pitching staff is untested, and the team as a whole is a young one.

* Orange Lutheran: 10-15, 6-9 in 1997. Coach: John Malmquist (11th year, 194-79). Prospects: This is Malmquist's second stint with Orange Lutheran. When he had the Lancers from 1982 to 1992, they won five league titles and appeared in two section championship games. After a five-year absence, Malmquist will try to get the Lancers out of a two-year slump during which they failed to qualify for the playoffs. He gets six returning starters, led by catcher Pat Sims (.325, 15 RBIs) and pitcher Nick Harris (2-1, 3.00). His best player might be Mike Mattivi, who was 5-4, 3.08 as a pitcher and batted .387 with three homers and 17 RBIs as an infielder.

* Ontario Christian: 2-17, 0-15 in 1997. Coach: Scott Tamminga (first year). Prospects: One of the reasons the Knights have struggled the last few seasons--Ontario Christian is 4-59 since 1995--is because there has been no coaching continuity. Tamminga is the team's third coach in the last four years. He has four returning starters, led by shortstop Aaron Sappenfield and pitcher-infielder Brent Tillema, but the problems are deep.

* Whittier Christian: 10-12, 6-9 in 1997. Coach: Brett Thorsteinson (second year, 10-12). Prospects: The Heralds finished last season tied with Orange Lutheran, and appear ready to scramble for one of the other two playoff spots behind Calvary Chapel. Thorsteinson has six returning starters, the most important being all-league pitcher Jason Carpenter (7-4), shortstop Tony Garcia and third baseman Richie Cawley. Whittier Christian's pitching staff returns intact. That's a big plus in a league loaded with free swingers. Should the Herald bats be the equal of the pitching staff, Calvary will have the challenge it needs to keep from sleepwalking through league.

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