Headline: 2009 Baseball Preview
Author: David Grant
Coaches from all eight Orange Empire Conference baseball teams gathered at Irvine Valley College last Friday for the first-ever OEC media day and to preview the upcoming 2009 season.
Saddleback, looking to improve on its 9-12 record in conference a year ago, has one starting player back from last year’s squad. Sophomore Trevor Whyte returns at first for the Gauchos, who finished tied for seventh in the OEC last season with 23 victories.
The strength of Head Coach Jack Hodges’ team though, rests on the pitching staff, which features All-OEC second teamer Robert Ross, Zach Johnston and Joe Richardson. Freshmen Blaine Jones and Tim Troyer are also expected to contribute and provide Saddleback with even more pitching depth.
Sean Parvin, 2B, and Steve Johnson, SS, will bolster the infield defense while Jeff Montanegro and Lars Leguri provide the Gauchos with a potent attack in the outfield.
The Lasers went 13-8 in conference a year ago and looks to build on that success this year. It begins with sophomore lefty Jared Haller, who made All-OEC second team last season and led the Lasers to a 13-8 record. Sophomore right-hander Matt Reyes and lefty Daniel Cabuling will join Haller in the starting rotation along with freshman prospects Mike Sianez and Zak Nuno.
IVC finished the 2008 campaign with 29 victories, good for third place. Head Coach Kent Madole has a solid core of infielders returning this year, led by shortstop Vince Hungerford and Sean Williams and also boasts athletic freshmen in Connor Rhoads and Colton Hamill. Sophomore Corey Thibault
will see time behind the plate and in the outfield along with freshman Bobby Gomez, who will also be used as a DH. Freshman Thomas Mobley provides the Lasers with a talented outfielder who has a tremendous arm and good speed.
While the OEC is consistently one of the top conferences in the country, the Gauchos and Lasers figure to give pre-season OEC favorite Santa Ana a run for their money this year. Both teams open up at home on Jan. 27, as the Gauchos take on Southwestern and the Lasers battle Long Beach City.