Published March 13th, 2013
Lamorinda Schools Gear Up for Competitive DFAL Baseball Season
By Hunter Hewitt
Junior DH Grant Henderson #30 slides to safety Photo Mary McConnell
With two reigning North Coast Section champions and a semifinalist amongst them, the Lamorinda high school baseball teams are a tough trio.
The only problem is that the rest of the teams in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League are just as tough.
With the preseason wrapping up, Campolindo, Miramonte and Acalanes are preparing for what is sure to be a tough slate of league games starting next Tuesday.
"There is no easy game in the DFAL," said Cougars head coach Max Luckhurst, whose team is off to a 2-1 start. "Every team in our league is very competitive."
Although Campolindo was one of the top teams in the country last season and won its third straight NCS Division II championship, Luckhurst knows his team cannot look past any of its league opponents.
Especially the Dons.
Acalanes was responsible for one of the Cougars' four losses in 2012, and hopes to have another successful year after winning the NCS Division III title last season. Both teams return several all-league players and are poised for deep playoff runs.
The Cougars are led by senior pitcher Trent Shelton, who was the DFAL Most Valuable Pitcher as a junior. They also return seniors outfielder Brett Stephens and infielder Robbie Tenerowicz, who were both first-team all-league selections last year.
Shelton (Oregon State), Stephens (UCLA) and Tenerowicz (Cal) have all signed their letters of intent to play Division I collegiate baseball next year. Additionally, juniors Matt Ladrech and Denis Karas have verbally committed to play at Cal.
"We have a lot of talented players returning, and we are looking to repeat as champions this year," Luckhurst said. "Our goal every year is to win the last game and that is the NCS championship."
Meanwhile, in Lafayette, Andrew Merken, Johnny York and Jack Veasey, three seniors who earned all-league honors last season, have guided the Dons to a 3-1 preseason record. Their experience has been critical on a team with six new starters.
"The team is looking good so far," Acalanes head coach Justin Santich-Hughes said. "It's a much different team than the last two years, but we are a very close-knit group."
While both schools have championship hopes in their respective divisions, neither is looking past fellow league member and rival school, Miramonte.
"The DFAL is always tough from top to bottom," said Santich-Hughes, who also mentioned Dougherty Valley as a team that stands out. "Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. It's a fun league to play in for that reason."
The Matadors finished last in the DFAL last season, but defeated the Dons once and also advanced to the semifinals of the NCS Division III playoffs.
Seniors Conor Bruen and George McConnell have been key contributors on an otherwise young and inexperienced team, and Miramonte has posted a 3-2 record in the preseason.
Matadors head coach Vince Dell'Aquila hopes to make the playoffs again this year, but has focused on his team's growth early on.
"Right now we are just trying to get better every game," Dell'Aquila said. "Our league is as tough as any league out there, and we want to be competitive again this year."
Miramonte hosts Dublin in its league opener on March 19. The Dons host the Cougars in their DFAL opener on March 19.
Miramonte has posted a 3-2 record in the preseason Photos Andy Scheck
Miramonte has posted a 3-2 record in the preseason Photos Andy Scheck

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