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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL NOTEBOOK

Agoura an Early Riser in League Chase

April 10, 2001|MIKE BRESNAHAN

It's early morning at Agoura High, more than an hour before class begins, and the baseball team can be found at the most unlikely place--the swimming pool.

In an effort to strengthen their arms and endurance, players meet four days a week before the sun rises. Half swim laps and sprints, the other half lifts weights.

Then they go to class and, more often than not, win on the baseball diamond that week.

It's part of the program installed by first-year Coach Zach Miller, and it appears to be working.

The Chargers are a half-game out of first in the Marmonte League, far from where most coaches expected them to be--last.

Agoura (10-5, 4-2 in league play) trails Westlake (11-3-1, 4-1-1) and Royal (12-3, 5-2). The Chargers barely lost to Westlake, 3-2, and to Royal, 9-8.

"We're happy we're 4-2 in league, but we're a couple pitches away from being 6-0," senior Paul Farinacci said. "Last year, we'd come to the field and hope to keep it close. This year, we expect to win."

Farinacci, a pitcher and first baseman, is hitting .425 and is 5-0 with a 1.59 earned-run average.

"Not one person on this team has had arm trouble this season," Farinacci said. "It's not always fun [early in the morning], but obviously it's been helping."

Relief pitcher Adam Hersh has three saves and has struck out 16 in 16 2/3 innings. Hersh, who also plays third base, is hitting .444 and has signed with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Catcher Chris Denove, the school's quarterback, is hitting .367 and has signed with UCLA.

"We're taking it a lot more serious this year than we have in the past," Denove said. "It's an amazing [accomplishment] when you look at the league this year."

Marmonte teams that overlooked Agoura before the season based on the Chargers' 23-91 league record from 1992-2000 are no longer taken by surprise.

"They know what we can do," Farinacci said. "Our coach wanted us to keep it on the down low, but we had confidence from the beginning of the year. We thought we could win league and that's no joke."

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