Cañada College Preview —

4 02 2011

First order of business, this banner belongs to Bob Kilburg, a fan of Cañada baseball who takes great photos of the Colts on the diamond. You can find some of his work here. Mr. Kilburg, if you need me to take this down, just email me at the Journal.

Second order of business, baseball time! It’s BASEBALL TIME (Jersey Shore voice)! Gotta love it. Yesterday, we posted the College of San Mateo preview. Today, Cañada College, another powerhouse program that did extremely well last season, but looks to be in transition this year. Coach Lucca answered some questions for us and here is the preview.

Cañada baseball has a lot of holes to fill
By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff

The tilde on top of the “N” in Cañada in many ways should be a question mark when speaking about the Colts baseball team.

In 2010, Cañada roared through their schedule, going 30-5 and taking a No. 1 NorCal ranking into the playoffs.

Things are a little different this year for manager Tony Lucca’s boys.

“We’ve had to replace quite a few players from last year’s team,” Lucca said. “Obviously we had a great year and we’re definitely looking to build on that. It’s an exciting challenge we have ahead of us.”

With the challenge is mind, Lucca and his coaching staff have undertaken the task of making the most out of what they have in their program. Cañada is no doubt talented, but they will rely on things other than the long ball this season.

“We got a lot of guys that can do some things (with the bat),” Lucca said. “Our key is just to get some base runners. If we can get base runners we can find ways to score runs.”

The offensive and leadership load falls mostly on the shoulders of former Aragon stand-out Pierson Jeremiah, Lucca’s starting second baseman two seasons ago. Jeremiah is returning after suffering a leg injury that forced him to redshirt last year. He’s one of the few certainties in Lucca’s offense.

“We’re leaning heavily on him to lead the way in a more leadership type role,” Lucca said. “He knows our system and he does everything we want out there. If the rest of our kids can look toward him and try to emulate him, we can do a lot of things.”

But after Jeremiah, Lucca acknowledges that there are a lot of unknowns on the 2011 Colts.

UC Davis transfer Javier Carillo is expected to play a key role for Cañada. Carillo can play a number of positions although Lucca lists him a middle infielder. Eren Miravalles (Serra) is in the infield picture as well after red-shirting last season.

Returning to the Peninsula after a stay at the University of Rhode Island is Alex Sortwell, the former Aragon Don. Daily Journal readers will remember Sortwell as the outfielder who had a monster senior season for the Dons, batting .446 with 25 RBIs.

Another Don, Drew Vanisi, will play into Cañada’s success at the dish as well. Peter Woodall (Hilldale) and Chris Pile will compete for time behind the plate.

“We’re definitely unproven right now so it remains to be seen,” Lucca said of his offense. “We’re young and we’re going to take some growing pains early, but I like the make-up of these kids. They’re working hard every day. All I look for is the drive to get better. A lot of times that can overcome talent,” he said.

The same question marks exist for the Colts on the mound.

Gone are their two exceptional starters from last season and in their place are a former College of San Mateo Bulldog and a player familiar with the Cañada system.

Darius McClelland, who spent last season at CSM and only made two appearances, will get the nod in the today’s season opener. The role of No. 2 starter will fall on the arm of Ray Torres, who sat out last season following Tommy John surgery.

“He’s as good as they come from the left side,” Lucca said of Torres. “We’re excited about them. We’ll have to go easy with (Torres) at first.”

“It’s a new team to me,” Lucca said. “I’m just as curious to see what these guys can do just as everyone else is. Right now, we have to learn how to compete at this level. I don’t think we’ll have any problems getting adapted to that, I think we’ve taught them well. It’s a matter of going out there, playing with some intensity and having fun.”

With all these question marks, Lucca knows a lot his team’s success will depends on the intangibles of baseball.

“For us, the key to our success has really been that our kids show up and play hard every day,” Lucca said. “Hustle can beat talent on any given day. I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of coaching these kids up a little bit, so if they can go out there and lean on the system a little bit and understand that things we’re trying to get accomplished, we’ll have a successful year.”

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