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Younger but still strong

Indians run roughshod over Oak Park

Posted: July 19, 2008 12:10 a.m.
Updated: September 19, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Starting and winning pitcher for Hart, Garrett Gooding, at Hart High Friday versus Oak Park High.

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Hart's spring 2009 baseball team will have an entirely different make-up.

Spectators, coaches and players got a glimpse of what the Indians squad could look like in the first round of the Valley Invitational Baseball League, or VIBL, summer playoffs.

Hart defeated Oak Park 13-3, at Bud Murray field on Friday.

With the loss of 13 seniors from this season's Foothill League first place finishers, Hart head coach Jim
Ozella said alterations in the roster is apparent.

"A lot of changes will have to be made," Ozella said. "Regarding personalities, how we're going to react when the games on the line and a lot of guys that didn't play a whole lot are going to have to pick it up a little bit."

The most obvious change in the Indians lineup is on the mound.

Hart's preeminent pitching staff ace Michael Montgomery graduated and was drafted No. 36 in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft to the Kansas City Royals.

The Indians No. 2 pitcher, Trevor Bauer, will not return to the mound next season as the senior-to-be made the decision to graduate in December and head to UCLA in the spring.

With the vacancy on the mound, Ozella is using the summer to develop a new ace.

So far, Garrett Gooding is the Indians' front-runner.

Gooding, a sophomore-to-be, had never faced the pressure of the varsity level prior to the summer league, but Ozella has a lot of confidence in his unversed hurler.

"That's what the summer is for," he said. "He's pitched a lot of good games against a lot of tough teams."

In Friday's game Gooding went 6 1/3 innings, struck out four batters, allowed six hits and had two earned runs.

"He's really had a good summer for us and thrown strikes consistently and dealt with all the pitching situations that you can throw at him."

There will be a few old faces in the Indians lineup next season.

Senior-to-be Devin Rodriguez will lead the Hart squad in ‘09.

Rodriguez finished last season with a .384 batting average and 13 doubles. He capped the year with a 21-game hitting streak, the best since Shane Carlson's 16-game hitting streak in 2005.

In Friday's game Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Along with Rodriguez will be Trevor Brown, Kyle Henningfield, CJ Millar, Tanner Sanchez and Spenser Souza.

Millar had a two-run home run in the first inning against the Eagles while Souza, also one of two starting quarterbacks for the Indians football team, finished Friday's game 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Hart will face Saugus in a best of three series beginning on Sunday.

Ozella said he is looking forward to facing a familiar league team.

"Obviously we know we're going to be challenged by them," he said. "And that's what we want, a good series. We want to play good games here."

He added that the summer offers a glimpse into what will be an emulous spring season.

"The Foothill League will be competitive as always next year," he said. "We want to play quality games and see how we do against quality teams."

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