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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

High School Notebook

April 24, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER

* Marco Estrada of Sylmar, a senior pitcher, has come out of nowhere to rank among region leaders in earned-run average.

Estrada spent three years on the junior varsity team. That usually means the coaching staff paid little attention to him.

He thought about quitting.

"I thought about it once--right when I found out I was going to be on JVs again," he said. "I was mad and sad."

Coach Gary Donatella is glad Estrada stuck around, because he's having a dream season. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 0.93 ERA.

Finally, he's getting equal billing with friends who had already made the varsity team.

Estrada said lifting weights in the off-season has made him stronger and increased the velocity of his fastball.

*

La Canada is 13-3 under second-year coach Dan Cowgill, a former Cal State Northridge assistant who specializes in developing pitchers.

He has two junior pitchers making steady progress. Matt Cheney is 6-1 and needed only 64 pitches in a no-hitter last week against South Pasadena. Jesse Hirdler is 5-1 and lost to first-place Monrovia, 2-1.

La Canada will play Monrovia next week to determine the Rio Hondo League championship.

*

Catcher Mike Nickeas of Westlake hit two grand slams and went six for 12 with 10 runs batted in last week in five games. The Warriors went 3-1 in the West Coast Classic in San Jose, losing to Mater Dei, and won their semifinal game in the Redondo tournament on Saturday.

Westlake plays Rio Mesa at 2 p.m. Saturday at Redondo High in the tournament final.

*

Second baseman Kasey Caplan of El Camino Real quit the team last week, one day after the firing of coaches Bob Ganssle and Dave Siedelman.

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