Baseball team dominates Chapman, 6-0

by Heather Morales
Sports Editor

With two games already played, one loss and one win, the defending national champion University of La Verne baseball team looks to the future and hopes for another winning season.

Among its goals are to take the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship and to get an invitation to the Western Regional Playoffs.

The team, who won the national championship last year at the NCAA Division III World Series, is hoping for a repeat of last year.

Being ranked No. 1 in the country in the pre-season polls has put some pressure on the team to win.

“Coming off of the national championship, we know that there is nowhere else to go but down,” said Head Coach Owen Wright.

Graduation hit the Leos hard last year, causing the team to lose many key players.

Returning this year are seniors Steven Reyes, Pat Murray, David Madrid, George Garcia, Mike Smith and Jeff Doen, juniors Brock Whobrey and Seth Marrs, and sophomore Ken Miller.

With 17 new players, Wright is looking past this season.

“They are a bunch of quality baseball players and they give La Verne baseball a bright future,” he said.

“We have a good mix of newcomers and veterans,” said Wright.

Coming to La Verne from Cerritos College, sophomore Tom Barraza looks to be one of the team’s top pitchers.

The pitching staff was hit hardest by graduation and will be led by veteran Doen, but Wright feels that although the team has an adequate pitching staff, they still lack something.

“We don’t seem to have quite as much power as we’ve had before,” said Wright.

Also back this year as assistant coaches are Ray Bundy and Jerry Kettle. Alumnus Erik Larson has joined the coaching staff this year. Larson graduated last year and was the teams catcher.

Led by captains Madrid and Smith, the team is hoping its next few games will not be as tough as its opening loss to Biola last Friday, 11-5. The Leos bounced back on Tuesday, defeating Chapman on the road, 6-0.

The Leopards will play its toughest opponents in the next few weeks starting with Chapman next Tuesday, a doubleheader against UC San Diego tomorrow, and a three-game conference series against Cal Lutheran on Feb. 16 and 17.

“Cal Lu in conference, and Chapman and UC San Diego out of conference are our toughest competition,” said Wright.

On Tuesday, the Leos dominated the game against Chapman as the sun set over Hart Park in Orange.

The game started slow but picked up in the third inning when the Leos scored four runs, starting with a two-run home run by junior Anthony Rice over the centerfield fence.

The pitching and defense was tough, Doen threw a one-hit shutout and two double plays, one in the seventh to end the inning and one in the ninth to end the game, kept Chapman from getting on base.

Another home run over the centerfield fence in the seventh by Whobrey gave the Leos its final score.

The Leos have already started on their quest for the championship but the road to victory is going to be difficult.

“We know that all of the teams are going to use their best pitchers and players to beat us because we are the team to beat,” said Wright.

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