By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Sierra Vista High School baseball coach Brett Stevens is pulling another one of his magic tricks, and it all starts with pitching. After winning the Montview League title and finishing 19-6 overall in 2010, the Dons graduated eight starters, the most notable being pitcher Christian Huerta, who was 10-2 with a 1.88 ERA and 126 strikeouts. (To continue click thread)
Even though Huerta was the face of the program, the Dons’ success could also be traced to Elias Novelo, who was a perfect 7-0.
Now a senior, Novelo has picked up where he left off last season, and so have the Dons.
Sierra Vista is 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the Montview League, with Novelo off to a 4-0 start.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect us to have this kind of start,” Stevens said.
The Montview League should be a hotly contested race. The Dons are tied with La Puente (6-1, 2-0) and Gladstone (5-1, 2-0) – all of whom have impressive overall records.
“We all compete,” Stevens said. “I wasn’t sure if we would battle for it (league title), but I like the way our guys are responding.”
Especially Novelo, whose only loss in his high school career came when he was called up midway through his freshman year.
Including his 2-0 record as a sophomore, Novelo has won 13 consecutive decisions.
“It is pretty remarkable, if you think about it,” Stevens said. “It’s a case where we had this little junkballer who had been in Huerta’s shadow for three years, but all along he continued to have success.
“I’m surprised the way he’s been able to step up this year and handle being our number one. He doesn’t blow anyone off the plate with his speed. He throws a decent fastball, but he can spot his change, curve and slider, and throw them for strikes.
“Anytime you have that much control and can spot your pitches, you can be successful.”
Stevens gives pitching coach Pete Flores a lot of credit for his pitching staff’s development. Flores was a great pitcher for the Dons in the 1990s.
“Pete has a great relationship and rapport with the kids,” Stevens said. “He’s definitely in touch with today’s players and knows how to deal with them. That’s always important.”
Infielder Giovanni Rivera also has played well, batting .484 with three doubles and six RBIs.