Baseball preview: Local teams ready for league play

Lodi batter FIdel Ulloa gets ready to make contact with the baseball in a non-league game against Pitman at Zupo Field on March 22.

On Monday, Lodi and Tokay will begin Tri-City Athletic League baseball action.

But Galt, Liberty Ranch and Elliot Christian have started conference play earlier this month.

Here’s a look at the area’s five high school baseball teams.

Lodi

Entering the TCAL opener at Lincoln, the Flames are 6-2.

Lodi coach Hobie Schultz, who has been running the program since 2006, feels that this year’s team is more than willing to put in the extra time and efforts in practices and after practices. That should be a good thing for Lodi, which is gunning for its 10th consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

“Tri-City Athletic League is going to be tough this year, with all teams competing for a playoff spot,” Schultz said.

Returning players are pitcher/outfielder Jonathan Charboneau, who is batting .440 and has nine stolen bases; infielder Logan Morita, who has a .308 batting average; outfielder Colton Smithhardt; infielder/pitcher Logan Stout; pitcher/infielder Fidel Ulloa, catcher/infielder Ian Watanabe, pitcher/first baseman Jeffery Werder and outfielder/pitcher Angelo Zazzarino. Stout is a junior who has been starting since he was a freshman. Other players who have started as underclassmen are Morita (now a senior) Ulloa (sophomore), Werder (junior) and Zazzarino (also a junior).

Newcomers are Niko Cabrera, Nick Hybarger, Trevor Jackson, Myles Lozano, Mason Osborn and Omar Plascencia. All are juniors. Jackson has a .417 batting average.

“Real good team chemistry,” Schultz said. “Everyone is willing to help each other out and put the work in.”

Schultz feels that the Flames are pretty good up and down the lineup. Morita, who was moved up as a freshman in 2016, has been the Flames’ leadoff hitter throughout most of the last four seasons.

On defense, Lodi has plenty of experience returning in the infield and outfielder. There are seven pitchers who have a combined 3.38 earned run average.

Tokay

Entering Monday’s TCAL opener against defending league Tracy at Zupo Field, Tokay is 1-12.

This year’s team has only two seniors — outfielder/second baseman Kolton Fernandez and outfielder Bryant Neuvert. Junior Ryan Lew is one of the Tigers’ returning players, and is currently batting an even .300.

“Day in and day out, he’s our best hitter,” said Tokay coach Pat Macfarlane of Lew.

Logan Drummond is another returning player for the Tigers. Drummond, an outfielder/first baseman/pitcher, is a sophomore who started as a freshman last spring.

“Logan is making some adjustments, hitting the ball hard,” said Macfarlane of Drummond.

The seven juniors on the team are James Haynes, Nolan O’Donnell, Colby Baker, Jeremy Flores, Hunter Trull and Harrison Blevins.

Macfarlane has five sophomores in Jacob Varney, who started at quarterback on the Tokay varsity football team last fall; plus Drummond, Ryker Henne and Joseph Barnhardt. Varney, a pitcher/outfielder, is batting .250. There are two freshmen on the roster in catcher/infielder/pitcher Josh Anderson and shortstop/pitcher Cade Campbell.

Galt

Jason Evans takes over the Warriors’ program. For the last two years, Evans was the Lodi High junior varsity baseball coach.

Galt is 1-6 in the Sierra Valley Conference and 2-10 overall. The Warriors’ lone win in the SVC came on Tuesday, when it posted an 11-9 win over defending champion El Dorado.

“It’s an extremely competitive league,” said Evans of the SVC.

Logan Mayfield is one of the Warriors’ three captains this season. A three-year starter, Mayfield, a junior, is batting .344. Ivan Arana and Marco Federighi, both of whom are listed as catcher/pitcher/shortstop on the team’s roster, are the other captains. Arana has eight stolen bases and Federighi is batting .348 and eight RBIs. Federighi was the lone Warrior named to the all-SVC team last spring.

There are six seniors on the team; Ty Abbott, Keegan Nelson, Hiroto Umeki and J.J. Alcantar. One of the six juniors on the team is Ethan Reece, a four-sport athlete in football, cross-country, soccer plus baseball. He has a .280 batting average and six RBIs.

Evans has three underclassmen on the squad; sophomore outfielder Dominic Flores and freshmen infielder/pitcher Oscar Zamora and catcher/pitcher/shortstop Dominic Soto.

Liberty Ranch

At this time, Liberty Ranch is tied for first place with Union Mine for first place in the SVC at 5-1. Liberty Ranch, Galt’s second high school, is 6-4 overall.

There are 10 seniors on coach Wade Isbell’s roster; Michael Ramirez, Merv Cornell, Shane Popoff, Tomas Avila, Michael Binney, Jayden Baroni, Anthony Perez, Jaime Gonzalez, Brady Norris and Josh Kerin.

But the Hawks only have four juniors; Devin Maberto, Kenny Morgan, Easton Hawkins and Austin Davis. The Hawks’ roster is topped off with Luis Manning and Cameron Hooper. Josh Seiler is the lone sophomore on the Hawks’ roster.

Elliot Christian

The season, Elliot Christian is 0-3 in the Central California Athletic Alliance and 0-4 overall.

There are three seniors on this year’s team in Robert Dutcher, who is batting .800; Joshua Alejandre, who has a .333 batting average and Alexander Pinasco.

The Eagles’ roster consists of three juniors in Tanner Burnell, Zachary Van Groningen and Derrick Hong. The rest of the team has seven freshmen, one of whom is Matthew Alagna, who is batting .300.

Contact Mike Bush at mikeb@lodinews.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.

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