Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now.
It may be hard to believe, but only one Foothill League baseball team has ever won a CIF title. Hart lifted the CIF plaque in 1999 when it beat Righetti 10-9 in the Southern Section Division 2 final. It’s the storied program’s only championship in four attempts (1982, 1989, 1999, 2015).
Saugus is 0-2 (1986, 1989) and Canyon is 0-1 (2002) in CIF finals, while West Ranch, Valencia and Golden Valley have never reached a CIF final, according to the section’s record book.
The Foothill League – which has been comprised of Hart, Saugus, Canyon, West Ranch, Valencia and Golden Valley for so long – has produced a multitude of major league baseball talent, like Roger Salkeld (Saugus), Keston Hiura (Valencia), Jake Bird (West Ranch), Scott Barlow (Golden Valley) and Zach Britton (Canyon).
Hart’s list is the longest and most impressive: Tyler Glasnow, Trevor Bauer, Trevor Brown, Kevin Millar, Andrew Lorraine, Mike Montgomery, James Shields, Todd Zeile, Bob Walk, and Jerry Owens – to name a few.
However, Castaic High is the new team in the Foothill League that’s already made its mark, and proven it belongs in just its second year of varsity competition.
“In two years, the team has felt what it’s like to win, then it evolved into believing they can win, and now it’s an expectation to win,” coach Darrell Davis said. “This season has been unbelievable.”
The Coyotes have a chance to sear their mark into the history books against Hesperia Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 final on Friday at 4 p.m. at Blair Field in Long Beach. The program already etched itself into school history by earning the first postseason berth of any team sport on campus after opening its doors in the fall of 2019.
Davis, who started the program, was ready to play freshman baseball in the spring of 2020, but the pandemic wiped that season away. The following spring (2021), the Coyotes were just a junior varsity program with freshman and sophomores. Last year was the program’s first varsity season (with no seniors). Castaic battled its way to a tie-breaking game with Saugus for a chance to earn an automatic playoff berth from the league, but lost.
“I remember telling the guys to remember that feeling after we lost. I promised them they’d get another chance,” Davis said.
Davis said he started to create that chance for his program in the fall of 2022.
“I took these guys everywhere during fall ball, we went down to Orange County and played all the big boys, like JSerra and Mission Viejo,” Davis said. “Since the fall, this team has just been working.”
The work turned into a third-place finish in the Foothill League behind Valencia and West Ranch, going 8-4 in league play.
“The biggest thing has been winning tight games,” Davis said. “It made them believe.”
Castaic has beaten Excelsior Charter (3-2), Oxford Academy (6-0), Lancaster (9-4), Mayfair (20-2), and Bloomington (6-1) en route to Friday’s final.
The team’s heartbeat has been senior Kyler Freude, who has been dominant from the mound and the plate in the regular and postseason, including 10 strikeouts and three hits from the plate to anchor Tuesday’s semifinal victory.
“Kyler is a gamer, man,” Davis said of the senior.
Senior Joji Sakata has provided the big bat for the Coyotes this season. He hit a grand slam in the quarterfinal win. Senior Aaron Gonzalez has also been a steady bat and glove at third base. Senior left-fielder Matthew Airhart has been the team’s energy starter at lead-off and on the basepaths.
Junior Tyler Hawn is expected to start at pitcher against Hesperia Christian Friday.
“We’re confident. We’re ready,” Davis said.
CIF-SS baseball finals schedule; CIF-SS, City softball finals schedule for May 19 and 20
Village Christian softball, led by two-way standout Bree Brennan, eyes CIF title
Ganesha High brings attention to online program with undefeated baseball, softball teams in CIF-SS finals
Updated schedule for the CIF-SS baseball championship games Friday-Saturday, May 19-20
CIF-SS baseball playoffs: Semifinals scores, updated schedule for the finals