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Baseball preview: O.C. top 10
The Register’s look at the teams in its season-opening top 10.
O.C. TOP 10
1. Huntington Beach: The Oilers won the CIF-SS Division 1 championship last season. They might be better this season, with excellence in all phases of the game. Huntington Beach has a tough schedule, with appearances in the National High School Invitational and the Boras Classic, plus some wicked nonleague games, so their overall record come playoff time might have a deceivingly large number of losses.
2. JSerra: The defending Trinity League champions return seven starters, including third baseman Royce Lewis, who was the league’s MVP last season, and all-league selections Brady Shockey (center field) and Chase Strumpf (shortstop). The Lions went 27-5-1 last season and reached the Division 1 quarterfinalis.
3. Orange Lutheran: With four Division 1-committed pitchers, the Lancers will be excellent on the mound. The offense will be fine, too. Center fielder Garrett Mitchell and shortstop Tristan Hanoian are coming off of all-league seasons. The Lancers finished last season 22-9 and were second in the Trinity League.
4. Cypress: Senior center fielder Dominic Fletcher, who signed with Arkansas, was All-County first team and the Empire League’s MVP last year. Senior pitcher James Acuna, an Oregon signee, was 8-2 last year with a 1.50 ERA. The Centurions bring back seven starters from a team that finished 20-10 and won the league championship.
5. Santa Margarita: The Eagles finished 18-14 overall and fourth in the Trinity League last season. Pitching and defense should get them back to the playoffs. Sophomore righ-hander Chandler Champlain committed to USC, and right-hander Konnor Kwok committed to Claremont-McKenna.
6. Los Alamitos: The Griffins, who missed the postseason last year, might be Huntington Beach’s chief threat in the Sunset League. Among the returnees are all-league selections Mike Townsend (pitcher, outfielder), Mark Stanford (infielder) and Scott Anderson (pitcher, outfielder).
7. Dana Hills: The Dolphins are short on experience but long on talent. Junior Hans Crouse was 6-1 last year with a 1.86 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 50 innings. Catcher David Clawson signed with BYU. Dana Hills will battle for the championship of the always-strong South Coast League.
8. Aliso Niguel: Five starters return from a team that finished 17-14 and tied Dana Hills for second place in the South Coast League. Senior catcher Blake Sabol committed to USC. Junior shortstop Demetri Colacchio was all-league last season, and second baseman/third baseman Connor Kokx is part of an outstanding infield.
9. Foothill: A senior-led lineup could make the Knights as good as they were last season when they went 22-9 overall and won the North Hills League title. Senior catcher Nick Provenzano is a three-year starter. Dillon Brown (third baseman, pitcher) signed with Cal State Fullerton, and shortstop Preston Moebius was all-league in ’15.
10. Mater Dei: The Monarchs will score runs. They bring back all-league outfielder Josh Stephen, a USC signee, and outfielder Grant Burton, who signed with Stanford, from a team that went 18-13 and finished third in the Trinity League. The pitching staff is young and inexperienced but has potential.