By Steve Ramirez
The San Gabriel Valley, with past stars as Mark McGwire, Cecil Fielder and Michael Young, has always been viewed as a baseball hotbed, and that tradition of success is expected to continue this season, which opens today for several of the area’s top programs.
There’s somewhat of a changing of the guard this season, with long-time Northview coach Darren Murphy now running the show at South Hills, and Husky assistant Dan Roddy taking over at Northview. This is also the final season for Nogales coach John Romano, who is retiring. And all eyes will be on Gladstone early in the season as veteran coach Rich Remkus is closing in on win No. 600. He begins the season at 597.
It’s also expected to be a banner season for area teams, with no less than five beginning the season with CIF-Southern Section title aspirations.
The group is led by San Dimas, which begins the season ranked No. 1 in the area after going 26-7 last season and advancing to the Division 4 semifinals, losing to eventual champion Oaks Christian. The Saints, ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 4 to begin this season, look loaded for another run.
“Last year was a tremendous experience for these guys,” said San Dimas coach Mike Regan, who guided the Saints to the Division 4 title in 2009. “You never know what you are going to get each year, but I like our team a lot. They’re a bit battle-tested, and hopefully when we get to it, we show up and play hard. But I like our chances.”
The Saints not only enjoyed the best season in the area last year, but they return most of the key pieces from that team, including first baseman Logan Muratalla, who hit .415, with 38 RBIs, and outfielder Elias Orona, who hit .438 with 30 RBIs.
San Dimas will be led on the mound by junior Peter Lambert and senior Daniel Millwee (2-1, 1.19 ERA).
The Saints are the favorite to win the Valle Vista League, but it will be one of the toughest gauntlets in the area to conquer, with Northview, Baldwin Park and Nogales all expected to be very competitive.
“When people think you’re good, you have to show up every day,” Regan said. “They want to beat you, so for us to be consistent and maintain a high level of play will be huge. We just have to show up every day.”
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