Untested Bonita Team Out to Prove They Can Play with Anybody, First Action Next Friday, March 5

February 27, 2010
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Pitching Coach Mike Newell with his staff of young guns, whose arms will have a great impact on determing the success of Bonita's upcoming season.

Pitching Coach Mike Newell with his staff of young guns, whose arms will have a great impact on determing the success of Bonita's upcoming season.

In 2009, Bonita baseball won Miramonte League titles at the varsity, junior varsity and freshman levels, but that was sooooooooooooo last year. Gone from the roster are names like Gio Mier, Jeff Gelalich, Jason Plowman, Terry Paredes, Ryan Henley, Nico Calderaro and Corey Hare, many athletes whose playing careers continue at the professional or collegiate level.

While there may not be any Major League Baseball first-round gem (Mier, Houston Astros affiliate, Lexington) for opponents to pitch around this season, Bonita boasts better depth than in years past when the Bearcats made it to the CIF quarterfinals the last three seasons.

“We have a little bit of everything,” Head Coach John Knott said, going into this weekend’s scrimmage. Our make-up is a combination of all three different levels. I think there’s going to be no secret to our team. If we can pitch and play defense, and, hopefully, get timely hitting we should be able to compete with anyone.”

In the fall, Bonita won the prestigious Cory Lidle tournament against a number of top area teams, but Knott was downplaying the accomplishment.

“The difference between the fall and now is in the fall you’re seeing a No. 1 starter for three innings, and now we’re going to see him for seven,” Knott said. “In the Lidle Tournament we didn’t see some of the arms that we’re going to see in the Glendora tournament or in league. So, if we’re complacent from the standpoint that ‘we did well in the fall, so we should be really good now,’ we’ve got another thing coming.”

Although Bonita lost several outstanding seniors, the Bearcats’ cupboard is hardly bare. It’s just unproven and untested as far as carrying forth the mantle and excellence achieved in past seasons.

“We just have a lot of guys who are inexperienced,” Knott admitted. “There’s nothing quite like playing varsity baseball until you’ve played it. So there are a lot of outstanding question marks, until we get answers to those questions.”

Hoping to erase some of those doubts are three-year varsity senior pitchers, Brian Tuttle and Josh Yepez. “They’re three-year guys who know the program really well,” Knott said. “They know what it takes to compete at this level.”

They’ll lead a staff that will also feature Adam McCreery, a junior, and Justin Garza, a sophomore. Further rounding out the mound corps are junior Brandon Murfette, sophomore Thomas Castro and senior Kyle Pine.

Fans of Bonita baseball will recognize the return of several position players who will be given their opportunity to shine as this year’s headliners. Junior Mark Lindsay will return behind the plate. Evan Highley, Bonita football’s all-purpose player and kicking specialist, will be at first. Greg Victoria is penciled in at second. In the outfield, KC Huth, Matt Gelalich and Anthony Ramos all return to play more prominent roles.

“We’re going to have to have guys step up,” said Assistant Coach Dave Cates. “They’ve done it at other levels. We’re hoping they’ll do it now at this level.”

“The reality is we have to continue to grow and get better,” Knott added. “We have to get on the same page, ask questions, be passionate, and continue to grow and just realize that if we’re facing their stud No. 1 pitcher that day, we have to take what we can get.

“It’s all about making plays when you have to.”

The team’s attitude is good. The Bearcats just returned from a trip to Stockton, working out in the home park of the Stockton Ports, an A-level affiliate of the Oakland A’s. “It was great camaraderie and a lot of baseball,” Cates said.

As for the team’s depth, Cates said this year was the toughest to evaluate talent and project players’ roles and contributions in the context of the team’s needs.

“It was hard to whittle down the roster,” Cates said. “We have a lot of depth. This was our toughest year in terms of making cuts and having to send players to JVs.”

Although every team craves consistency, neither coach said their roster and lineup are chiseled in stone. “Never,” Knott said. “We try to evaluate these guys all the time. If we call someone up from JVs, or a guy is not starting right away, we’re focused on trying to find a role for that player to succeed, and we’ll go from there.”

In practice, the coaches don’t play favorites or call out first and second strings.

“We try to treat them all the same,” said Knott, entering his sixth campaign as head Bonita varsity coach. “We don’t ever go, ‘Starters you hit and everybody else shag.’ We treat them all the same and put them in groups and we do things so everyone can get the same amount of reps.

“Then we try to find times early in the year where we can play multiple people. So, we’re already talking about possible lineups — versus the lefty, versus the righty, so we can see other guys.

One thing the new players will quickly learn about Knott, Cates and pitching coach Mike Newell is that the coaches compete on every pitch. There’s no let-up or let down.

That first pitch will be thrown next Friday, March 5, against Ayala, followed by another rematch against Northview on Saturday, March 6, at Henderson Field in the Glendora tournament. Come out and see which new stars will emerge.

One Response to “Untested Bonita Team Out to Prove They Can Play with Anybody, First Action Next Friday, March 5”

  1. In an article about the 2009-2010 Bonita Baseball team, it would have been nice to see more ink devoted to the current team – your opening 2 paragraphs are about last year’s team with other references to them sprinkled throughout. The message that shines through your article is that this year’s team can’t compare with last years. Way to pump up the current players.

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