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Moss Grows in Field for Notre Dame

May 28, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER

Steve Moss is a 16-year-old sophomore center fielder receiving lessons that will last a baseball lifetime.

He transferred from Brentwood to Notre Dame High last fall and was immediately put into a senior-dominated lineup filled with future college players.

What an education Moss has picked up.

"Being around all these good players has pushed him," Coach Tom Dill said.

He started the season batting No. 9 and was recently elevated to No. 2. He has made a series of spectacular defensive plays, looking like Superman as he flies through the air to make catches.

His development has been a crucial part in helping Notre Dame (18-9) move to within one victory of reaching Dodger Stadium and playing for the Southern Section Division IV championship. The Knights lost the coin flip Saturday and will travel to Ridgecrest Burroughs for a semifinal game Tuesday.

"Oh man, he is a player," Dill said. "He's become one of our toughest outs. I think he's as good as there are as far as outfielders are concerned. I don't know if he can get much better. He's absolutely incredible."

Moss, 6 feet 2 and 175 pounds, was the co-Delphic League player of the year as a freshman. The switch to Notre Dame and tougher competition required an adjustment.

"I don't think the confidence was there in the beginning and I had to come to the realization I could do it," he said. "I kept on working on it. I knew what I was capable of and I had to prove it."

He has raised his average to .329. He's one of the fastest players on the team with 15 stolen bases. He has the strong arm needed to play center field.

"I live for this type of stuff," he said. "Pressure makes me a better ballplayer, trying to come through in the clutch."

And how would Moss look roaming the vast stretches of center field at Dodger Stadium?

"I'd love to see him out there," Dill said.

*

Like Moss, sophomore Christian Hariot of El Camino Real transferred from a small school, Faith Baptist. He started on junior varsity, was promoted to varsity at spring break and hasn't come out of the lineup.

As memorable as Jason Kort's three-run double in the bottom of the seventh was to cap El Camino Real's 7-6 comeback victory over Sylmar on Friday, the crucial at-bat involved Hariot.

His single enabled All-City shortstop Conor Jackson to come up with the bases loaded. Jackson was walked intentionally, then Kort delivered.

"That was amazing," Hariot said.

Hariot is expected to take over at shortstop for Jackson next season. He's batting .395 and has been listening to and watching Jackson for weeks.

"He's given me many tips at shortstop," Hariot said. "I can ask him anything and he'll answer me straight out."

Said Coach Bob Ganssle about Hariot: "He's my man. He's our future."

*

Two of the best small schools pitchers have led St. Bonaventure (20-4-1) and Village Christian (18-5) into the Division V semifinals.

Gilbert Infante is 10-1 for St. Bonaventure, which will play at Woodcrest Christian in Riverside on Tuesday.

Jeremy Gonzales, who signed with St. Mary's, is 12-0 for Village Christian, which will play Carpinteria at Tujunga Little League Field.

*

Where would San Fernando (20-11) be without the arm of junior Abraham Gonzalez (9-2)?

He's a pitching machine who throws mostly strikes. In 73 1/3 innings, he has walked 12 batters.

On Friday, he needed 81 pitches to defeat Marshall, 2-1, in a City Championship first-round game. He'll get the call again Tuesday, when the fourth-seeded Tigers host fifth-seeded Banning.

*

Kennedy (20-11-1) is making its usual late-season surge. The Golden Cougars upset Carson, 6-1, on Friday and get top-seeded Chatsworth (25-1-1) on Tuesday in the City Championship quarterfinals at Chatsworth.

"It all comes down to a four-game win streak," Coach Manny Alvarado said.

Kennedy and Chatsworth tied, 5-5, in a game halted after eight innings because of darkness on March 16.

Kennedy's strengths are pitching and defense. Every junior college in the region wants shortstop Juan Sepulveda, who has committed four errors in 32 games. Second baseman Chad Shaw also has only four errors, and catcher Phil Avlas might be the best defensively in the City Section.

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

CITY SECTION

(Games at 3 p.m.)

Tuesday

Championship

Kennedy at Chatsworth

El Camino Real vs. San Pedro at Harbor College

Banning at San Fernando

Poly at Roosevelt

SOUTHERN SECTION

(Games at 3:15 p.m.)

Tuesday

Division IV

Notre Dame at Ridgecrest Burroughs

Division V

St. Bonaventure at Woodcrest Christian (Riverside)

Carpinteria vs. Village Christian at Tujunga Little League Field

Division VI

Grace Brethren at Rio Hondo Prep

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