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Leopards claw down Eagles for opening win

Head coach Scott Winterburn (left) gives senior infielder Zach Canfield some instruction as senior pitcher Alan Heide warms up at the Damien High School varsity field. The team has been holding its practices at the high school while it awaits construction of a new home field. / photo by Christian Uriarte

Shelby Nelson
Staff Writer

This year’s baseball team is in high spirits about what lies ahead for the upcoming season.

Following 2011’s success – a 25-14 record overall and 20-8 in the Southern California Inter­collegiate Athletic Conference – will be tough to beat but, there is no doubt about the potential for the new season, despite the loss of graduating seniors from last year’s team.

“We always miss starters and the guys that played a lot, but that’s college baseball,” head coach Scott Winterburn said.

“The next year just creates an opportunity for a new group. Right now we’re just a bunch of guys that are really trying to find who those people are going to be this year and we do have some guys to choose from.”

On Saturday the Leopards played a doubleheader against Biola, an NAIA team.

The Leopards won the first game, 7-6, but Biola came back to beat the Leopards in the second game, 4-1.

“I think where we are right now, we played pretty good today and showed what we’re capable of. It’s a really good program over there – perennial NAIA power and ranked in the Top 10 in the country.” Winterburn said.

Despite Biola’s skill and reputation, the Leopards were able to come out and play a challenging game.

“First to come out and take a game from them and be in both games every step of the way. It shows that our team has got some good players,” Winterburn said.

In addition to Winterburn’s optimism about this season’s potential, some of the players were on the same page in spite of the recent challenge of not having a home field to practice on this year.

“The biggest challenge overall is that we don’t have a field,” senior pitcher Anthony Cerafice said.

“Anyone can say that is a challenge but we’re looking forward to it. We don’t take it as an excuse.”

Although season seems promising, teamwork and initiative are two of the biggest factors that will determine just how successful the Leopards will be.

“I think we lost a lot of good players last year,” junior catcher Jason Moralez said. “We’re kind of looking for guys to step up, whether they’re seniors who didn’t play that much last year or sophomores. There are a lot of young guys and we’re looking for them to really contribute this year.”

The Leopards reflect a strong sense of unity and if each player does his part, a successful outcome is bound to transpire.

“We’re definitely looking for a lot of executions and guys really holding down their part and holding down their jobs in their role. It’s going to be a lot of team wins. It’s going to take everyone this year,” Cerafice said.

Shelby Nelson can be reached at shelby.nelson@laverne.edu.

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