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VIBL season nearing end with local teams in contention

Posted: July 12, 2013 9:29 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2013 9:29 p.m.

Canyon's Cole Mears, left, beats the throw to Hart's Leif Vera during a Valley Invitational Baseball League game at Hart High on Friday.

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The annual summer tune-up has been underway for local high school baseball teams, and Hart and Saugus are near the top of the 2013 Valley Invitational Baseball League standings.

With one week remaining before postseason play, Saugus sits in second place, while Hart is in fourth.

Of the 22 teams participating, three represent the Santa Clarita Valley in Saugus, Hart and Canyon.

Additionally, West Ranch and Valencia are among a group of six schools which are not participating in a full VIBL season and are not eligible for playoffs, but are instead playing against each other in exhibitions.

Of course, the summer months mean different things to different schools. Some use the time to keep top players sharp, while others are utilizing the months to give players who haven’t had an opportunity before to earn their spots heading into the school year.

Saugus is in a fortunate position of having a young, yet experienced roster.

“We’re kind of in a unique situation,” said Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “We had a lot of returners coming back that were young players.”

Because of that, many of the potential starters, who might be playing on travel ball teams if they were older, are playing with the Centurions during the VIBL season.

Two such players are Brendan Griffith and Rudy Aguilar, whom Maggiora pointed out as having good summer seasons through six weeks of VIBL.

“They get to know each other a little better,” Maggiora said of the benefits. “When you play during the summer you’re out there working and you have a game. There’s no school, no classes, they’re around each other more in the same setting.

For a team like Canyon, which is coming off an unlikely co-Foothill League title, the summer has been a chance to showcase that it’s here to stay.

“They’re just carrying on with the attitude we had last year,” says A.J. Meneou, who is coaching the team for the summer in place of varsity coach Adam Schulhofer. “Obviously going from being a down and out team for the last few years there has been an attitude change.”

Canyon, which sits in eighth place in the league, lost a pitcher’s duel to Hart on Friday morning, 2-1.

But the Cowboys have seen impressive performances from players like Jason Rowe, Joe Reagan and John Dicey, Meneou said.

Not every team has chosen to go the traditional VIBL route this summer, though.

Valencia and West Ranch are two of a group of six schools — including Alemany, Harvard-Westlake, Moorpark and Simi Valley — which elected not to participate in the the normal VIBL season and will not participate in the postseason.

The schools instead are playing one exhibition game against each other.

Instead, Valencia is using its time to travel across the state and showcase its players in front of college scouts against top competition.

“You see a different level of intensity not playing the same squads all summer that you see during the summer and again in the fall,” said Valencia head coach Jared Snyder. “You see a different level of intensity because they don’t know the other team.”

Valencia is 11-5-2 and has played against some of the state’s best so far this summer, playing in the Arch Bishop Mitty tournament featuring De La Salle, St. Mary’s of Stockton and Buchanan of Fresno.

The Vikings will travel to Orange County to play Mission Viejo, JSerra, Capistrano Valley and Dana Hills before returning to Santa Clarita for the California Classic.

“I think that our kids are really working hard to get mentally tough to handle any adversity that comes up,” Snyder said. “To handle their adversity, to handle a teammate’s adversity. Where we don’t get in a predicament whenever we haven’t experienced it before and challenge them to get out of their comfort zone. Making pitchers throw different pitches they’re not comfortable with in counts they’re not comfortable with. It’s a big challenge, that’s what we’re really doing is trying to prepare them.”





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