Thursday, March 11, 2004
Copyright ? Las Vegas Review-Journal
FRESH FACES: Gators have new look
Six transfers provide defending champions with added depth
By DAMON SEITERS
Green Valley's Cameron Brown, a transfer from Bishop Gorman, makes a throw from third base Wednesday as teammate Brian Sizemore awaits his turn at practice during infield drills.
When a player transfers to another school, many people assume the team that receives the new player automatically gets better.
Green Valley baseball coach Nick Garritano isn't sure it works that way. In fact, the six transfers on his team are one of his biggest worries this season.
"We haven't had transfers in the last four or five years," Garritano said. "It's a brand new feeling for everyone around practice. That's going to be the toughest thing, to mold this team as one and not a bunch of kids from other schools."
Pitchers Arnold Toombs and Cameron Brown transferred from Basic and Bishop Gorman, respectively, and probably will be among the team's three starters to start the season. Coronado transfer Matt Sexton will see time at catcher and designated hitter.
Three other transfers -- infielder Louie Greb (Coronado) and pitchers Mike McKaeige (Coronado) and Shawn Root (Galena) -- will battle for playing time on what Garritano said is one of his deepest teams ever.
I'm not quite sure how good we are one through nine," Garritano said. "I do know that 10 through 21, they're as good as we've ever had in those slots. It will create competition throughout the year for all the kids."
While the transfers have helped the Gators' depth, it's the players gone from last year's state championship team that leave Garritano unsure of how good this season's squad can be. Gone are outfielder-pitcher Jordan Parraz, second baseman Kyle Price and pitcher Ryan Tabor, all of whom are contributing at Community College of Southern Nevada.
"It's not going to be an easy task to replace those kids," Garritano said. "It doesn't matter how many kids you bring up from the (junior varsity), or how many transfers you have. I don't see a Jordan Parraz, Kyle Price or Ryan Tabor out there right now."
The Gators still figure to be among the best teams in the Sunrise Region, led by pitcher-third baseman Brian Sizemore, who drove in 35 runs last year, and shortstop Ryan Foley, who batted .391 last year as a sophomore.
Southeast Division teams Silverado, Basic and Foothill and Northeast squads Las Vegas and Eldorado also should be among the top teams in the Sunrise.
Defending regional champion Centennial again appears to be the team to beat in the Sunset. The Bulldogs are led by four-year varsity players Bryce Massanari (catcher), J.C. Leach (third base) and Jordan Smiley (pitcher).
"A lot of those seniors have been around for a while," Centennial coach Charlie Cerrone said. "If they have a great attitude and lead well, then we should be competitive."
Palo Verde qualified for state last year with a young team and should be strong again despite having just four seniors.
"Young is an excuse to use when things don't go right," Panthers coach Mike Besser said. "We've got a good group of kids that have been through the playoffs and had success. I expect them to get the job done and play well."
Sierra Vista, which finished second in the American Legion state tournament last summer, also should do well in the Sunset. Cimarron-Memorial, Gorman and Durango also figure to be strong.