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2013 Baseball Preview: Squads take aim at playoff berths

La Cañada, St. Francis, Flintridge Prep all missed postseason a year ago and look to return in 2013 with new coaches leading Rebels, Spartans.

March 06, 2013|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: Flintridge Prep High School pitcher Karlsen Termini throws during game vs. Santa Paula High School at home at the Glendale Sports Complex on Friday, March 5, 2010. (Raul Roa/News-Press)
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Flintridge Prep High School pitcher Karlsen… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Playoffs were a non-existant entity for the La Cañada trio of high school baseball teams a spring ago.

With plenty of change on the rosters and two new coaches aboard, postseason berths could very well be a welcomed change, as well.

Replacing longtime skipper Dennis Ballard, Alex Valadez, who was an assistant for the past two seasons, takes the reins as the head coach for La Cañada, as the program went just 2-10 in the Rio Hondo League a season ago.

“I think we're meshing well,” said the 31-year-old Valadez. “We're heavily senior-stacked this year. I've seen these kids come through. They're buying in. I think we have a little bit of everything. I'm excited.”

Senior Anthony Mizrahi looks to do a bit of everything for the Spartans, as he'll play third base and be a crucial cog in the lineup while also the team's No. 1 starter.

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In addition to Mizrahi, junior left-hander Justin Lewis and senior Alex Bang will head up what Valadez sees as a deep and talented starting staff.

“I think we have a good staff,” said Valadez, whose team had started the season 1-1 headed into Wednesday. “We're probably five or six kids deep.”

Catcher Scott Moulin, shortstop Clayton Herrmann and senior first baseman Scott Moulin will also be key starters as the Spartans look to climb up the Rio Hondo League ladder.

“The reality is every [team] has an opportunity,” Valadez said. “It's the team that makes the fewest mistakes [that will prevai]. I like our chances.”

St. Francis is under the guise of Aaron Milam, a longtime assistant for the Golden Knights who took over midway last season when Esquival moved on.

Just like any other season, St. Francis figures to face a loaded Mission League gauntlet, with Milam expecting Loyola, Harvard-Westlake and Alemany to be the favorites.

Milam, whose team has started 0-2, figures to have depth on the mound, but will have to rely on some small ball to scratch together runs.

“We can pitch, we pitch pretty well. We're pretty deep, we'll compete on the bump,” said Milam, who will rely on the arms of senior Richie Alfonso, senior Daniel Monarrez and senior AJ Byer. “As far as scoring runs, that's another story.”

Alfonso, who will also play first base, is likely to hit third and have a big say in what happens offensively. Milam also likes the
prospects of sophomore Andres Kim, an infielder who will lead off in the order.

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