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Patriots start as No. 1

Beckman baseball team returns six starters on squad that won CIF Southern Section Division 3 title last year.

February 25, 2012|By Joe Haakenson, Special to the Daily Pilot

The last time Beckman High's baseball team took the field, the game ended with a pile of bodies celebrating a CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship at Dodger Stadium.

The Patriots open the new season on Thursday against Tesoro, but don't ask Beckman Coach Kevin Lavelle about "defending" the CIF crown.

"We're trying to approach the year as though we don't have to defend anything," said Lavelle, whose Patriots beat Pacific Coast League rival Woodbridge, 4-1, to win CIF last June 2 at Dodger Stadium. "We're proud of what happened last year. And I'd be lying if I say we're going to forget about it the next three months because we're not. But we don't have to defend anything.

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"In high school baseball or any high school sport, really there's no such thing as 'defending' CIF champion because you never have the same team. If I have to defend last year's title, I want my catcher, my second baseman, my right fielder and a pitcher back."

Lavelle may have lost a few of his key players from last year's team to graduation, but he's got quality players returning. So much so, the Patriots are ranked No. 1 in the Division 3 preseason rankings.

"It's a great honor, that's never happened before at the beginning of the season," Lavelle said. "It's a sign of respect from the coaches in the division. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really mean anything. I'll say what any coach would say — it doesn't really change anything. The game is still 0-0 when it starts."

The Patriots have six starters returning from last year's championship team, which went 13-2 to win the PCL crown and 25-6 overall. Three of those players recently signed college letters of intent — pitcher James Kaprielian to UCLA, third baseman Zack Rivera to Long Beach State and shortstop Garret Brown to Indiana — before their senior seasons even started.

"We have plenty of talent coming back," Lavalle said. "We have some guys to replace but the guys we have are more than capable."

Two of those new starters are at catcher and second base, which will be manned by Alex Shenasi and Torin Goldstein, respectively.

"Alex is able to handle James, which is the most important part of being able to take that position," Lavelle said. "And Torin is 6-foot-3, a really athletic and tall kid. He doesn't fit the mold for a second baseman but we had to get him on the field somewhere."

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