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AOW: Rapp leading Eagles to surprising start

March 27, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

Last year the Southwest High School baseball team finished with a dismal 3-23 record.

Nine games into this season, Southwest seemed to be heading in the same direction as it had lost six games.

Then something happened. As soon as Imperial Valley League play started last week, the Eagles got wins over Brawley Union and Imperial high schools.

On Tuesday, Southwest rallied to defeat Brawley 7-3 after being down 3-0. The Eagles followed by shutting out Imperial 5-0.

Leading Southwest was pitcher George Rapp, who totaled 11 strikeouts, six hits allowed and one earned run in nine innings over both games.

"After we were down 3-0 to Brawley, everyone just sucked up and pulled it together," said the 17-year-old senior. "If this had been last year and we were down 3-0, we would've fallen apart and just given up."

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What Rapp thinks is making the difference this season is the play of the team's five seniors.

"I think all of us realize that we have to step up and carry this team. We know that if we lead, the rest of the players will follow," said Rapp. "I also think that everyone on the team has bought into our coaching staff's program."

Whatever it is, it's working. In this 10-game IVL season any kind of lead out of the gates helps. In a tie for first place, the Eagles already have two tough tests out of the way. But things don't figure to get any easier.

"This year's going to be tough. All the teams are real close. I really don't think any one team is going to run away with it," said Rapp. "It's just going to be a matter of who steps up. And I think we'll be the team that steps up."

For Southwest to make a run at a league title it will rely heavily on Rapp.

Said Eagle coach Mickey Carter: "I think he puts too much pressure on himself. If he would relax a little more I think he could have more success.

"He's a big part of this team. As long as he's going well, so will this team."

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