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Mix of vets and rookies fuel IVC's hopes

February 01, 2002|By RICHARD MYERS

Sports Editor

With a nice mix of veterans and newcomers, Imperial Valley College's baseball coach is optimistic as the Arabs open their season today.

"Comparing this team to past years' teams, this one should do fairly well, if we can stay healthy," said coach Dave Drury.

IVC finished 14-23 last season and went 7-18 in the Pacific Coast Conference.

Drury noted there is some quality experience at some key positions, which should help IVC in its quest to challenge in the PCC.

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"Since we've got a relatively young pitching staff, it's nice to know we've got a veteran behind the plate" Drury said, referring to sophomore catcher Alfredo Vasquez. Vasquez earned PCC honorable mention honors last season. "He will be a huge asset," particularly since two of the Arabs' starting pitchers are freshmen.

IVC's No. 1 hurler is George Rapp, a freshman from Southwest High in El Centro.

Rapp is such a talented player that when he's not pitching he probably will be starting in right field, Drury said.

Behind Rapp in the pitching rotation are Rodney Miller, a sophomore from Brawley Union High, and Humberto Cardenas, a freshman from Central Union High.

Miller transferred back to the Valley from Grossmont College, where he starred last year.

"I'm glad he's back," Drury said of Miller.

When Cardenas is not throwing he probably will be playing third base.

IVC has back from last season southpaw Balois Marquez. He will probably see work in long relief Drury said.

Ivan Soto returns and will see work as a reliever. John Sadberry also is back on the mound after taking a year off.

Usually, IVC is one of the strongest hitting teams in the PCC, Drury said. Last year, though, the Arabs struggled at the plate.

That should change this year, with Vasquez penciled in as the team's clean-up hitter.

IVC also struggled in the field last year, Drury said, but should be vastly improved with the return of several players.

Back are first baseman Matt Redden, second baseman Cory Moreno and shortstop Jake Richter, who played third base last year.

Moreno and Richter both earned all-conference honors last year.

The Arabs have two solid center fielders returning in Ryan Parker and Chris Phelps. Parker took over for Phelps last year when Phelps was sidelined early with a wrist injury.

IVC will really only have to fill one hole. Brett Cochran, a freshman from Imperial High, is expected to get the starting nod in left field.

"The guys we've got are quality guys," Drury said, adding the Arabs are deep and don't lost much when they go to the bench.

Two local freshmen who should contribute are Luis Cardenas, an outfielder from Central and Juan Lopez, a pitcher/outfielder from Calexico.

"As far as talent level, this year's team is one of the best I've seen here," said Drury, in his 15th year of coaching.

IVC opens its season at 1 today on its home diamond against Pasadena City College. The Arabs play two games in Yuma on Saturday, facing Arizona Western at 11 a.m. and Eastern Arizona at 2:30 p.m. IVC hosts Cochise College of Douglas, Ariz., at noon Monday.

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