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Youth movement

Grizzlies head coach Scott Drootin building program around pair of sophomores

Posted: March 29, 2009 10:52 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley sophomore right-handed pitcher Josh Smith throws Friday against Valencia.

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When Scott Drootin accepted the head coaching position with Golden Valley baseball, the hope was that he could change the losing climate that had dominated the Grizzlies' past.

Coming off a year that saw Golden Valley post an 0-15 Foothill League mark, the Grizzlies were looking for an infusion of talent.

The team's 5-2 win over Canyon in its league opener showed there may be reason for Golden Valley supporters to have hope for the future.

Sophomores Josh Smith and Rocky Sherwood head a talented group of underclassmen that are looking to turn around the Grizzlies' program.

"We know that we have to work hard every day to help this team improve," Smith, a right-handed pitcher, said. "As a group, I think we're improving, and I know that we're focused on getting better."

Drootin has been impressed by the 10th-grade duo, saying both players have played beyond their years to help a program that was not even deep enough to field a freshman team.

"Both those guys are mature beyond their years," Drootin said. "Nothing bothers them. They are the kind of guys that you can build a program around."

Drootin, who has led three other Southern California teams to division championships, looks at his new spot at Golden Valley as an opportunity to mold another program.

He finds the rebuilding process a fulfilling undertaking, especially with players like Smith and Sherwood to lead the team.

"The great thing is that both these guys know what they need to do," Drootin said. "I think it helps that both of them haven't been part of a losing environment because they are both too young to really have been a part of what happened here. They stay positive, and you can tell that they enjoy playing together."

Brown and Sherwood see the chance to rebuild a team coming off a winless league season as an opportunity, as opposed to an albatross.

The battery knows that they can be key cogs in bringing Golden Valley to a level where the postseason is a real possibility.

"We are focused on working to find any way to make this team a group that can make the playoffs every year," Sherwood said. "We know that we have to step things up to a higher level."

Sherwood has brought his game to a higher level by hitting .423 thus far, while managing a pitching staff that has improved upon its previous campaign, which saw the Grizzlies surrender 31 runs to Valencia and 29 to Hart.

"I think we have a great group to build around, and Josh and Rocky are at the core of it," Drootin said. "They trust in themselves, and they really believe in the fact that we aren't that far off from being a factor in this league."

Drootin sees Brown and Sherwood's personalities as another factor that will help the Grizzlies grow. Both players have brought a calming attitude to the team.

"They just never panic," Drootin said. "Both of them are very alert on the field. For all the teams that I've coached, I don't think I have ever had a duo like Josh and Rocky."

Smith has already earned a pair of victories for Golden Valley this season, while fanning 10 in 16.2 innings. His evolving control is a key to success in Drootin's opinion.

"I'm working on keeping the ball in the zone, and I think our team is working on limiting mistakes that lead to bad innings," Smith said.

There may be many good innings in the future for the Grizzlies, due in large part to Brown and Sherwood.

"These guys are our ice men," Drootin said. "They are two of the best teammates that we could have to bring a positive energy to this club, and the fact that they are so young really give us a reason to believe that we are headed in the right direction."


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