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Baseball coach of the year: Arlie Kearney, Sunny Hills
Sunny Hills advanced to the CIF baseball semifinals this season.
Generally, such varsity success started with a strong freshman team.
Sunny Hills, though, did not have enough players to field a freshman team three years ago.
For building a great team from practically nothing, Sunny Hills’ Arlie Kearney is the Register’s baseball coach of the year.
The Lancers had their best season since … well, nobody at Sunny Hills is exactly sure. The school had some terrific baseball teams, and one of its alums, the late Gary Carter, is in the baseball Hall of Fame. Sunny Hills had some fine baseball teams in the 1990s.
Bad times followed. Sunny Hills baseball had seven varsity coaches over 15 years. From 2005-14, the Lancers had one winning season.
Kearney, 33, took over before the 2014 season. Sunny Hills went 8-19 that season.
This season, the Lancers finished in third place in the Freeway League, good enough for the league’s final berth in the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs. The Lancers beat Sonora, 3-2, for the first time in a long time, ending Sonora’s 26-game league winning streak.
In the playoffs, Sunny Hills beat Godinez in a wild-card round game. The Lancers in the first round beat third-seeded Don Lugo of Chino Hills, 3-2. Then came a 7-6 win over Grand Terrace, and a 3-2 win over West Torrance in the quarterfinals.
The season ended with a 4-1 loss to South Torrance in the Division 4 semifinals.
Kearney, who went to California High of Whittier and UCLA, previously was head coach at Whittier Christian and Western.
Kearney does not look at that loss to South Torrance as an ending, but more as a beginning.
“I think the difference for us this year was just having a coach who gave the program some stability,” Kearney said. “I want to be at Sunny Hills a long time. I love it here.”