Islander Baseball Home Opener Scheduled For Friday - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Sports

Islander Baseball Home Opener Scheduled For Friday

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2019 12:47 pm

Friday marks the official home opener to the Islander Baseball Team’s season, as they host Montgomery at 3 p.m. The Islanders are coming off a championship season which found them winning CIF Division III with a combination of pitching, defense and just enough offense to make it all work. As is the case in present-day prep sports, they were rewarded by being promoted to Division II and placed into the midst of a tougher conference, the Eastern League.

But Head Coach Morgan Cummins has the counter to those moves and he started with his senior class. “We’re returning most of the team from last year and we lost three starters. We have a strong nucleus ready to compete this year. On the mound we have Luke McCollough and Dylan Miller who are our two go-to guys along with Sean Miley, Adam Sheehan and Justin Robertson. They are all seniors. Jon Tessier will help us out of the bullpen like he did in the CIF Finals game last year against Imperial and he is also ready to step into the lineup. Bobby Zajonc is back at first base. He gives us reliable defense, saves us on throwing errors, is ready to make the jump at the plate, and hit higher in the lineup this year. Jared Pratt is back at catcher and he is our de facto captain. He’s the most respected player by everybody on our team and our main leader. He will hit leadoff for us again and he does a great job behind the plate, managing pitchers, stopping the opponents’ running game and keeping balls in front of him. He was First Team All-League last year. Dylan Miller will play some outfield. The outfield hasn’t solidified itself yet and he will be in the mix out there when he isn’t pitching.”

Cummins continued onto the junior class. “Kyle Phin will break out this year and will play center field or right field or somewhere. He had a really good winter ball season and was our leader in RBIs. He had some big hits and we hope he can carry that momentum into the season. Heath Miller will be somewhere in the middle infield at either short or second, near the top of the lineup. He is a producer guy and he can move runners and come up with big hits. Plus he will pitch out of the bullpen for us. Kanon Billings was on the JV last year and had a really good winter ball season, with some good defensive plays and some hits. He is progressing at the plate and competing for a spot. We have a couple of outfielders Evan Schnell and Grant Gould who are both competing for an outfield spot and they will get playing time throughout the season. And we have some younger guys in sophomores Tobey Brown, who will play third and a little outfield and hit in the middle of the lineup. We’ve seen more maturity from him, and he has changed his offensive approach depending on the situation, and it hitting a few more line drives in RBI situations. His power is still there, and he is getting more two-out RBIs. His defense is solid, and he makes the plays he gets to. I was impressed with another sophomore, right-handed pitcher Luke Meloche, who had a good winter ball season and he is ready to compete at this level. And freshman Ryan Ward is ready to step in right away and play in the infield. He is a great athlete, can use the entire field at the plate and will give us a consistent offensive punch.”

The bad news is that the ace of last year’s mound staff, junior Raden Perry, is out after sustaining an off-season knee injury which required surgery. Cummins said, “The surgery and rehab is a 12-13 month process and he’ll be back next year. We’re trying to keep Raden close to us during the game so he can get a coaches’ perspective to help him in the long run. He’s a tough guy to replace because he was an All-CIF pitcher. But we’re confident Luke and Dylan will step up. Raden has a lot of baseball knowledge and he can help the team.”

The Eastern League this year will include Coronado, Mira Mesa, Point Loma, Serra, and Clairemont. Cummins said, “It’s a league where anybody can beat anybody else. There will be a lot of close, one-run games. Mira Mesa is really good with a lot of seniors and good pitchers. I don’t remember the last time we won at Clairemont. A lot of one-run games is what you want out of your league. Based on last year’s record, we are the No. 5 team in Division II and there are other good teams in the division including Ramona, who has one of the best pitchers in the section. Santa Fe Christian, Otay Ranch and Bonita Vista are all good. It will be a tough challenge, but we have a team that can compete. On paper we should be there, but we have to go play. McCollough is ready to step up and be a No. 1 starter for us, to be the guy. His velocity is up over last season and I’m excited for him to assert himself as the leader of our pitching staff.”

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