Despite losing All-CIF pitcher Tyler Bussard to graduation, Coach Tom Crowther likes the talent his group has this season.
“We have a good group of guys who have been in the program for a few years,” Crowther said. “So, I think that experience should help us. We’re expecting good things this year.”
Trying to fill the void left by Bussard, who went 10-4 with a 2.17 earned-run average last season, Crowther said the Indians will likely have a pitching staff by committee.
Seniors Cale Hamilton, Corey Howard, Austin Holgate and juniors Sean Kahikina, Nick Bozeman, Kyle Hart, Erik Suarez, Mikes Grene and A.J. Dupre can all pitch.
Two key returners are Bozeman, who also plays third base, and Dupre, who plays first. Dupre hit .372 (35 for 94) with 15 runs scored, 14 RBI, four doubles and two triples and Bozman hit .365 (31 for 85) with 24 RBI, 20 runs scored, seven doubles and six home runs, as both earned all-league first-team honors.
“Those two guys are going to hopefully lead us this season,” Crowther said. “They both have great skills and we are expecting big things from them.”
Also returning is All-Area outfielder Sean Kahikina, who hit team-high .397 for the Indians a year ago.
Other players who Crowther expects good things from are senior catcher John Schwer, senior outfielder Shane Murphy and junior shortstop Raymond Palafox, a transfer from Montclair Prep.
In the league race, Crowther said Crescenta Valley is the team to beat.
“They have won the league for something like six years in a row, so they are the team to beat until somebody does just that,” Crowther said. “Burbank has its two best pitchers back, so they should be tough.”
The Bulldogs (10-13, 7-7) enjoyed an upswing in 2007, finishing fourth in the Pacific League and qualifying for the postseason for the first time in 16 years.
In the playoffs, the squad fell in a CIF Southern Section Division II wild-card game to Pioneer Valley, 5-1.