The high school baseball season started a couple weeks ago with a few area teams beginning league play last week. The L.A. North region has some talented teams, including the reigning City Section champions at San Fernando High School. Harvard-Westlake has one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in Southern California. Valencia has one of the most potent offenses. Here is a look at the L.A. North nine, in alphabetical order, the teams to watch in the 2012 season:
Alemany (7-1-1), ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll, has an ace in Cody Thompson and will challenge Harvard-Westlake for the Mission League championship. Thompson threw five shut-out innings against Dos Pueblos in a 3-0 win on Tuesday. He has given up one run in his first 22 innings.
Buena (8-1), ranked No. 10 in the Southern Section Division 2 poll, is coming off a 6-5 win over Santa Barbara. Senior shortstop Corey Dodge is hitting .680 with five doubles and seven RBIs in the first nine games of the season.
Harvard-Westlake (7-2-1), the fourth-ranked team in the Southern Section Division 2 poll, swept Crespi in Mission League play last week. Starter Max Fried, who had 10 strikeouts in his team’s 3-1 win over Crespi on Friday, will be expected to carry the load for Harvard-Westlake after fellow starter and equally touted Lucas Giolito will have to sit out the season with an injured elbow.
Malibu (7-1), the No. 7 team in the Southern Section Division 4 poll, won its first seven games of the season, including a doubleheader sweep of Channel Islands on March 10. The team is batting .388 and five players are hitting .444 or better. Senior infielder Jordan Simons leads the team with a .567 batting average.
Newbury Park (6-1), the No. 9 team in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, has won four games in a row including its first two in Marmonte League play against Moorpark. Starter Luke Eubank is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 21 innings.
San Fernando (6-2), the reigning City Section champion, has found an ace in sophomore Alonzo Garcia. He threw a one-hitter against Banning and improved to 3-0 last week. Garcia has a 0.73 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 24 innings.
Simi Valley (6-1), the No. 8 team in the Southern Section Division 1 poll, has possibly the best player in the Marmonte League in senior shortstop Cody Ramer. He hit .470 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 30 games as a junior.
Valencia (5-1), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, has won four Foothill League championships in a row. The Vikings started league with a dominating, 13-5, win over Golden Valley, but lost to West Ranch, 2-1, on Friday. Valencia has three of the top hitters in Southern California in Trey Williams, AJ Balta and Brian Mundell. Balta, a junior, hit .425 with 11 home runs and 25 RBIs in his sophomore season.
West Ranch (5-1-1) already has a few signature wins early in the season. The Wildcats drew first blood against Foothill League rival Valencia, 2-1, on Friday. Starter JC Cloney shut down the potent Valencia offense, giving up only three hits and striking out 11. West Ranch also beat Alemany, 4-3, in the Easton Tournament, and Chatsworth, 7-6.