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2001 Baseball Preview

Freeway League

February 20, 2001

Buena Park

Coach: Russ McHale

2000 record: 13-11

League record: 8-7

Six starters return for the Coyotes, including second baseman Anthony Cabral and shortstop Oscar Dorado, who combined to turn 20 double plays last season. Cabral hit .485 with six homers and 21 RBIs. Buena Park lacks proven pitching, giving sophomore Manuel Avendano and freshmen Casey and Cory Arbiso a chance to crack the rotation. Pitcher/second baseman Rudy Padilla, a second-team all-league selection, is back after hitting .333 last season with 21 runs.

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Fullerton

Coach: Dave Posthuma

2000 record: 11-12-1

League record: 7-8

Three-sport star Daniel Fells returns to lead the pitching staff. Fells, a first-team all-league selection, recorded 34 strikeouts last season and had a 3.40 ERA. Jim Waninger, R.J. Ciccaglione and Jeff Larson will also see action on the mound. Kyle Cullinan returns at shortstop and Chris Stevenson is back at third base. The Indians are setting their sights on the playoffs and will count on contributions from a cast of newcomers that includes utilityman Federico Bedolla, pitcher Robert Carter, second baseman Joe Echaves, catcher Mike Herrera and pitcher/outfielder T.J. Moran.

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La Habra

Coach: Mate Borgogno

2000 record: 17-10

League record: 9-6

With 13 underclassmen and only two returning starters, the Highlanders' streak of three straight league titles and four consecutive playoff appearances is in jeopardy. Returning pitcher/third baseman Kevin Sulimoff was 5-4 last season with a 4.14 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 71 innings. He also hit .310 and scored 19 runs. Second baseman Tristen Gadberry hit .370 with 22 RBIs and 24 runs, and pitcher Carver Kennerson was 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA.

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Sonora

Coach: Pat Tellers

2000 record: 16-11

League record: 8-7

Pitcher Brett Smith, who went 7-1 last season with a 1.28 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings, begins this season rated as a top-100 prospect among high school seniors, according to Baseball America. Smith will anchor a deep pitching staff that includes Jacob Mendrin (20 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings) and Mike Farias (4-3, 2.25 ERA). Those three are the Raiders' top offensive threats as well. Sonora will need increased production from outfielder Jamie Lozano (.273), catcher Blake Shaw, whose defensive skills compensated for his .181 average, and David Gaviola, who's coming off an injury that limited his playing time last season.

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Sunny Hills

Coach: Ruben Hernandez

2000 record: 14-13

League record: 8-7

The youthful Lancers could struggle early but hope they can finish strong after adjusting to first-year Coach Ruben Hernandez's style. Hernandez will rely on only three returning starters: second baseman/shortstop Ryan Mansfield, pitcher/first baseman Cory Achay and catcher Jeff Jones. Other returning players include Tony Gonzalez and Shaun Cahill.

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Troy

Coach: Dane Ilertsen

2000 record: 7-17

League record: 5-10

The Warriors hope last season's struggles pay dividends this year. First-team all-league shortstop Ryan Welch (.347, 20 stolen bases), outfielder Luis Bernal (.366, 12 RBIs), utilityman Jeremy Avebiso (.302, 10 RBIs) and designated hitter Jason Miller, a Servite transfer, will anchor the offense. Junior pitcher Adam Manassero was a starter as a freshman but sat out last season with a torn ACL. This year, a player-of-the-year-like season is expected from Manassero.

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