San Fernando, sylmar to fight for valley mission league

All Division 1 teams were previewed. Leagues without a team in Division 1 were not included.

You can feel it. The winter chill has given way to a spring thaw, as low 60s turn to high 60s and the heavy coats return to the closet for another 10 months.


Coaches and groundskeepers have been hard at work laying sod, dragging infields, and tarping mounds for months. Baseball season is nearly here.


With just a few days until baseball season begins in earnest (with some early tournaments already underway), it’s as good a time as ever to look around the City Section.


Who’s been doing towel drills? Who ran the extra pole? Who wants a trip to Dodger Stadium in June? Hope springs eternal. Let’s get to it.



Image Credit: Alex Scarr | SoCal Prep Insider

Kennedy


Head Coach: Marcus Alvarado

2018: 24-10 (lost Open Division quarterfinals)

Key Losses: Andrew Olivas, Chris Alvarez, Brandon Duarte, Caleb Valenzuela

Key Returners: Manny Gutierrez, Vince Esparza

Coach quote: “We’re going to be young and without varsity experience. But this team is eager to compete and grind with anybody.”


Outlook: “Compete and execute” will be the mantra from Coach Alvarado in 2019 and the Cougars most likely won’t be the 20-plus win team from a year ago. They’ve lost All-City hitter Andrew Olivas, starter Chris Alvarez, and middle infielder Brandon Duarte, just to name a few. 11 total players walked across the stage last June and Kennedy thinned out quickly. But arms Manny Gutierrez and Vince Esparza return and will be tasked with leading what figures to be an inexperienced squad.



San Fernando


Head Coach: Armando Gomez

2018: 19-9 (lost Open Division quarterfinals)

Key Losses: Steven Villagran, Justin Lawrence, Albert Dominguez

Key Returners: Matt Dodd, Tony Meza, Bryan Torres


Outlook: The Valley Mission League should be San Fernando’s to lose. While they lost team captain and two-way star Steven Villagran to graduation, the Tigers return plenty of depth on the mound to complete a strong run for the league title. Senior Matt Dodd has looked sharp in early-season action on the mound and could become a true ace in the City Section. But the lineup posted an 11-K, no-hit offering against a young Roosevelt team a few weeks ago and that’s cause for a little concern. If they hit, they’ll win. But it often won’t come that easily.



Sylmar


Head Coach: Ray Rivera

2018: 18-14 (lost in D-1 quarterfinals)

Key Losses: Freddy Reynoso, Alfred Hernandez, Richard Galindo

Key Returners: Enrique Espinosa, Ernesto Esparza, Andrue Catalan


Outlook: Sylmar has been on the edges of the Valley Mission league title fight for the better part of a decade, losing out to either San Fernando or Kennedy in each season’s final weeks. But with rebuilding Kennedy squad, the Spartans have a prime opportunity to bring the school it’s first Valley Mission league baseball title since 2009. They’ve lost top hitter Freddy Reynoso, whose .356 batting average led the team a season ago. Their strength lies in their depth on the mound, losing only one key arm from the 2018 team. Junior Enrique Espinosa will be an All-League talent, and new seniors Ernesto Esparza and Andrue Catalan could be a top pitching duo in the league. Espinosa dominated Granada Hills earlier in the week, so it looks like the Spartans are getting some early returns.



DIVISION-II: Canoga Park (4-11), Panorama (0-15), Reseda (6-14), Van Nuys (8-17)

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