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Baseball preview: Three teams poised to make runs this season

Burbank, Burroughs lost significant talent to graduation, while Providence has solid group of sophomores. Bell-Jeff not fielding a team.

March 07, 2014|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(File Photo )

The local baseball landscape has changed a bit from last year, as the city lost one program this season and plenty of talent.

Bellarmine-Jefferson High, which had been the most successful baseball program in the city for years, will not field a team this season. Last year under Marty Marquardt, in his only year at the helm, the Guards went 5-18 and didn't make the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Only two years prior, Bell-Jeff had continued a string of nine straight postseason appearances under former coach Hector Perez.

With one less team, Burroughs, Burbank and Providence have all begun the season with lineups filled with talented returners and promising newcomers.

A change at Burroughs this season is the program has a new coach in Craig Sherwood, a local mainstay who was most recently an assistant at Burbank.

Surprisingly, the Indians and Bulldogs don't have a single returning all-league player among them.

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Here is a closer look at the teams.

BURBANK

The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they went 18-9 and 12-2 in the Pacific League to tie for the championship with Crescenta Valley. It was the program's first league title since 1991 when it was a member of the Foothill League.

However, this year's installment of the Bulldogs might look vastly different than the 2013 product. That's because Burbank lost a whopping 14 seniors to graduation.

"With that many graduating seniors, we are kind of starting from scratch a little bit," said Burbank Coach Bob Hart, whose team fell in the first round of the Division II playoffs last season to Dos Pueblos, 6-1. "We look for production and we gave these guys a lot of time in the offseason and kind of charted them out in order to take the guess work out of it.

"So despite the fact we lost so many guys and we have a lot of holes to fill, at this point we're pretty solid in our lineup and guys have accepted their roles."

Although a good number of players on this year's squad were not on varsity a year ago, Hart said many were playing at the lower divisions and are aware of the standard set with last year's league title team.

"It goes to a program approach rather than an individual approach," said Hart, who will have three quality freshmen on the roster. "They are aware of what we were able to do as a program last year and they tend to buy in a little more. We have developed continuity in the program and we're hoping that will carry over."

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