STAR-NEWS ALL-AREA BASEBALL
Player of the Year: Corey Copping, Temple City, Senior
Coach of the Year: Steve Gewecke, Alhambra, 16th year
Pitcher: Joseph Mata, Monrovia, Junior
Pitcher: Marco Briones, Alhambra, Sophomore
Catcher: Jonah Jarrard, Temple City, Senior
Infielder: Bowdien Derby, La Salle, Senior
Infielder: Chris Ward, Pasadena Poly, Senior
Infielder: Chris Williams, La Salle, Senior
Infielder: Garret Glazier, San Marino, Senior
Outfielder: Juan Crespo, Alhambra, Senior
Outfielder: Calvin Copping, Temple City, Senior
Outfielder: Justin Jones, Monrovia, Junior
Utility: Angel Acosta, Gabrielino, Senior
Pitcher: Chris Burkholder, Monrovia, Junior
Pitcher: Erik Trask, Arcadia, Senior
Catcher: Francisco Gonzalez, Gabrielino, Junior
Infielder: Kyle Starling, Temple City, Senior
Infielder: David Olmedo-Barrera, St. Francis, Senior
Infielder: Jeremy Duran, Alhambra, Junior
Infielder: Anthony Mizrahi, La Canada, Junior
Outfielder: Josh Marrs, Maranatha, Senior
Outfielder: Jeffrey Bain, San Marino, So., Sophomore
Outfielder: Ayman Nureldeen, Duarte, Senior
Utility: Gary Huang, Arcadia, Senior
By Keith Lair, SGVN
It was the final practice for the Temple City High School baseball team.
The Rams were set to make the school’s first appearance in the CIF-Southern Section championship game and Corey Copping, in his final practice before his final high school game, was raking the mound and picking up baseballs.
“I’m sitting in the dugout and he’s out helping cleaning up,” Temple City coach Barry Bacon said. “He’s not lollygagging. He’s out helping with the rest of the freshmen cleaning up.”
It’s not something one of the best players on a team likely would do. Not something that an NCAA Division I-bound athlete might do, either. But it was something Copping did after every practice.
“I showed them what to do,” Copping said. “I just wanted to keep a tradition going.”
Copping, who will take his 90-mph plus fastball to the University of Oklahoma, achieved all but one goal this season – that CIF-SS title. The Rams lost to Palm Desert, 4-0.
The 6-foot, 1-inch senior did everything else right. He was 9-1 with 76 strikeouts in 71 innings, gave up nine earned runs and had a 0.89 ERA. He also he batted a team-leading .395 with 32 hits and team highs of 19 RBIs and 12 doubles.
Those numbers helped him earn Star-News Player of the Year honors.
“I thought from the very beginning of the year, I thought we could go all the way,” Copping said. “Last year we were good. We wanted to get better.”
Copping had big CIF-SS playoff wins against Don Lugo and St. Bonaventure.
“He’s probably one of the most complete players we’ve ever had,” Bacon said. “He is one of the more coachable players we have ever had. He’s one of those kids that on good days and bad days, he never changes his personality. He approaches the game the same if he was winning or losing, striking out or hitting home runs.
“He just keeps playing the game the way it is supposed to be played.”
He signed his scholarship before the start of the season and pitched his first career no-hitter at any level in a 1-0 victory over La Canada. He pitched three shutouts.
“I just kept playing the same like I usually do,” Copping said of how he played after signing with the Sooners.
Another program to reach a CIF-SS title game was Alhambra, which lost to Bonita, 5-1, at Dodger Stadium.
Like Temple City, which went 24-4, it was a marvelous Moors run. They won their eighth consecutive Almont League title and reached a CIF-SS championship game for the first time since 1927.
Steve Gewecke, who has been with the program for 17 years, 16 as head coach, is the Star-News Coach of the Year.
“We felt as coaches going into it that we had a good group,” Gewecke said. “How good? We did not know. We were winning games early, but we didn’t feel like we were playing well.”
The Moors won a school-record 25 games and lost only four.
“Everybody was looking at us and saying, `Little Alhambra, they need to check themselves,’ ” Gewecke said. “We always say no matter what others perceive of us we know how we feel about ourselves.”
Playing head-to-head against Temple City in the championship game of the Arcadia Elks tournament, a 6-0 Rams victory, made all the difference, Gewecke said.
“There was no shame in losing to Temple City, but we had a lack of being aggressive and that was really bothersome,” Gewecke recalled. “We had a big team meeting afterward. It kind of woke us up a little bit.”
Perhaps the highest note of the season came in the CIF-SS semifinal, a 6-4 victory over Beckman. The school’s grandstands were packed and the fences in the outfield were lined with well-wishers.
“It was absolutely an electric atmosphere,” Gewecke said. “It was the kind of atmosphere we had always envisioned. It was the best victory as a coach for me.”
Copping’s twin brother, Calvin, and the Rams’ catcher, senior Jonah Jarrard, also were picked to the All-Area first team. Alhambra sophomore pitcher Marco Briones and senior outfielder Juan Crespo also were selected.
Calvin Copping was equally adept on the mound and at the plate.
His first loss on the mound was in the title game. He finished 8-1 with a 1.03 ERA with 61 strikeouts and batted .260 with 18 RBIs.
Jarrard hit.386 with 14 RBIs.
“It was an honor to catch them,” he said of the Coppings. “I’ll see them on ESPN one day. I’ll be able to say I caught two professional pitchers.”
Briones was 9-1 with a 1.22 ERA and struck out 68. Crespo batted .470 with 39 hits, including 10 doubles, and 29 RBIs.
Monrovia nearly played Temple City for the title but lost to Palm Desert in the semifinals.
Pitcher Joseph Mata, a junior, and outfielder Justin Jones, a junior, were two of the top Wildcats.
Mata was 9-2 with a 1.24 ERA and 61 strikeouts. He beat Temple City twice, 4-2 and 4-0. He batted .427. Jones hit .415 with 11 doubles.
La Salle finally got the best of Bishop Amat and won the Del Rey League title.
Infielder/pitcher Bowdien Derby, who will play at San Diego State next season, was 9-1 with a 0.60 ERA and 117 strikeouts for La Salle. He batted .395 with three home runs and 27 RBIs.
Teammate Chris Williams, who also played infield, batted .465 with 40 hits, including 11 doubles, and 23 RBIs.
Gabrielino senior Angel Acosta, selected at utility, had a 0.64 ERA with 109 strikeouts and was 7-2 with six shutouts. He also batted .386.
Pasadena Poly’s Chris Ward also had dual roles, pitching and playing first base. The Panthers won the Prep League title again. The senior hit .254 and was 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 88 strikeouts.
San Marino infielder Garret Glazier hit .371 with 12 RBIs.