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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | BASEBALL NOTEBOOK

Region Trio Marching to Troy

May 25, 2000|STEVE HENSON

Adam Leavitt is a slick-fielding second baseman with 47 hits and a .550 batting average for Thousand Oaks High. First baseman Brian Lipman hit a region-record 33 home runs in his career for Royal. Lipman's teammate, outfielder Casey O'Quinn, batted .467 this season.

All are seniors who received scholarships to the same college.

No surprise there. But the school doesn't begin with Cal State or UC, and it doesn't belong to a conference on the West Coast.

Leavitt, Lipman and O'Quinn are bound for Troy State, a Division I school in Troy, Ala., an hour's drive from the Florida panhandle.

The Trojans are in the Trans American Athletic Conference and are beginning construction on a $2 million stadium this summer.

The Trojans had a losing record this year for the first time in John Mayotte's 33 seasons as a head coach, the last 10 at Troy State. He wanted to expand his recruiting horizons beyond his usual turf of the South and Puerto Rico, so he called Nez Balelo, who played for Mayotte in the Cape Cod Summer League nearly 20 years ago.

Few know talent in the region better than Balelo, owner of West Coast Baseball School and longtime scout team coach. He had the names; Mayotte did the rest.

"He recommended kids in the right situation with the right background, kids he knew could and would play for me," Mayotte said. "Nez is supremely qualified."

Mayotte, in fact, has never seen Leavitt, Lipman or O'Quinn play. That's trust.

"When you are recruiting kids from out of the area, you rely on people," Mayotte said.

Lipman and Leavitt took a recruiting trip to Troy together. Leavitt liked the program and the people.

Lipman liked the way the wind blew toward the outfield wall.

"It's an ideal hitter's park," Lipman said. "My eyes lit up."

O'Quinn is Lipman's best friend. Leavitt has played with Lipman on summer teams. Their familiarity will help combat inevitable homesickness.

"When kids visit, we learn about them," Mayotte said. "Their parents are outstanding. They are excellent ballplayers. Everything about them seems right."

*

Does any school have a coaching staff with a stronger playing pedigree than Camarillo?

Coach Scott Cline and assistants Roger Frash, Richard Jaquez and Rick Torres all had outstanding careers.

Cline was an All-Southern Section shortstop who helped Camarillo reach the final at Anaheim Stadium in 1985. He went on to play third base at UCLA for four years and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers.

Frash, the first base and hitting coach, starred at Hueneme High and Oxnard College and was the second pick overall in the 1980 draft by the New York Mets after being chosen a junior college All-American. He led the New York-Penn League in batting and played professionally for three years.

Jaquez, the third-base coach, played first base at Rio Mesa in the early 1980s and starred at Cal State Northridge, where he hit the winning home run in the final game of the 1984 Division II World Series against Florida Southern.

Torres, the pitching coach, pitched at USC from 1987-90 after a four-year varsity career at Santa Clara High.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

City Section

First Round

(3 p.m. games)

City Championship

Friday

Grant at Chatsworth

Kennedy at Carson

Marshall at San Fernando

Granada Hills at San Pedro

Sylmar at El Camino Real

Westchester at Poly

City Invitational

Wilson at North Hollywood

Venice at Cleveland

Verdugo Hills at Bell

Van Nuys at Palisades

Garfield at Monroe

Narbonne at Birmingham

Southern Section

Quarterfinals

(3:15 p.m. games)

Friday

Division I

Camarillo vs. Long Beach Wilson

at Blair Field

Division II

Santa Barbara at Thousand Oaks

Corona Centennial at Hart

Division III

Westlake at Charter Oak

Division IV

South Hills at Notre Dame

Chaminade at Ridgecrest Burroughs

Division V

St. Bonaventure at Paraclete

Santa Ana Calvary Christian vs.

Village Christian at Tujunga

Little League Field

Division VI

Thacher at Grace Brethren

Faith Baptist at Bloomington Christian

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