Prep baseball previews
Last year: 4-17
Top returners: Dallas Preston, sr., 3B; A.J. Cota, sr., P/SS; Samuel Perez, sr., CF
Key newcomers: Fernando Yanez, jr., 1B; Jose Fausto, jr., OF
Co-Coach Cody Pelfrey's comments: “It's a little different. I'm used to just showing up with my mitt and practicing and now I'm realizing there's a lot more to coaching than I thought.”
The lowdown: Pelfrey, who graduated from Antelope in 2009, has an interesting situation because as a senior for the Rams, he played with the current seniors when they were freshmen. But now Pelfrey is a co-coach with Pablo Ramirez. It was a rough year for the Rams last year, but with some new coaching and a handful of key returners, expect the Rams to be more competitive this season.
Last year: 17-12, went to 2-2 in playoffs
Top returners: Christian Marquez, sr., P; Oscar Elizarraras, jr., P/1B; Braden Easley, sr., OF
Key newcomers: Jair Delgadillo, sr., C; Omar Celaya, sr., P/3B
Coach Duane Evans' comments: “I think we got a talented bunch, but we got to find out what roles they're all going to play.”
The lowdown: The Raiders have a lot of turnover from a season ago, but return enough talent to be one of the better teams in the area. Marquez will be solid on the mound and the Raiders have other arms behind him to throw some quality innings. Evans feels that his lineup will be more inclined to play small ball and manufacture runs.
Gila Ridge Hawks
Last year: 19-9, won first playoff game, lost next two
Top returners: Irving Lopez, jr., 2B; Marco Jaime, soph., SS; Irving Elizarraras, sr., P/1B
Key newcomers: Bobby Mena, soph., OF; Raul Fernandez, soph. UTL
Coach Greg Osowski's comments: “For as much as we've lost, our infielders are back. We got a very good defense, especially up the middle.”
The lowdown: The Hawks are still trying to figure out their pitching rotation, but with Lopez and Jaime up the middle, whoever is on the mound will happy to be forcing ground balls. Despite the younger group than last season's team, Osowski thinks the Hawks will be competitive with their outstanding defense and ability to manufacture runs.
Last year: 4-21
Top returners: Angel Sanchez, sr., SS; Manny Camacho, jr., 1B/P; Matthew Valdez, jr., P
Key newcomers: Abraham Rangel, sr., OF/P; Martin Gomez, soph., C
Coach Richey Leon's comments: “Last year, every pitcher didn't have any varsity experience. Hopefully now that experience is going to show up.”
The lowdown: The Kings are coming off a rough season a year ago, returning all but two players from a year ago, they should be better equipped to be more competitive this season.
San Luis Sidewinders
Last year: 12-14
Top returners: Jonathan Bazua, jr., OF; Jorge Puarte, soph., OF/P; Arturo Ramirez, soph., C/3B; Alejandro Aguilar, jr., 1B/P
Key newcomers: Alexander Bazua, fr., P/IF; Oscar Moreno, jr., SS/P/C
Coach Cesar Castillo's comments: “We'll play a lot of small ball, move runners over, and do things we haven't had to do before. But they show up to practice, they got a little swagger. I think the future looks very bright.”
The lowdown: Last season's roster full of freshmen and sophomores are a year older and a year better for the Sidewinders. While they may be another year away from being really good, San Luis has the ability to stay competitive this season. Moreno is a transfer from California and Castillo hopes he can become a solid addition to the Sidewinders lineup.
San Pasqual Warriors
Last year: 5-15
Top returner: Paul Wiseman, sr., C
Key newcomers: Manny Sanchez, sr., 1B; Victor Duran, fr.; Alphonzo Nunez, sr.
Coach Faron Owl's comments: “We have about 15 kids with no experience. So teaching right now is very basic and learning technique and learning the game.”
The lowdown: There is good and bad news in San Pasqual. The positive is Owl has 18 players out this season, which should help boost the program. However, most have little to no baseball experience, so the Warriors will hope to keep games close this season.
Yuma High Criminals
Last year: 18-11, lost both playoff games
Top returners: Matt Higgins, sr., SS/P; Angel Garcia, sr., 3B/P; Krystian Lekan, sr., OF/P
Key newcomers: Fernie Garcia, soph., 2B; Josh Morales, soph., IF
Coach Judd Thrower's comments: “We're going to be in a lot of games. We're not going to get blown out or blow anybody out. And if we win enough of those one-run games and get to the state tournament, anything can happen.”
The lowdown: After losing several key players from last year's team, the Criminals look to be a scrappy type of team. It seems as though Thrower realizes the team he's got. The Criminals won't light up the scoreboard, but they may have competitiveness the ability to stay in games.