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Preview: Mission League baseball teams set to endure daunting schedule

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One of the most talked about topics at Mission League baseball media in October was the schedule, which became a lot longer and more difficult now that Sierra Canyon joins the fold.

The first day of the season was Feb. 11, and already, league play will begin this week because of the schedule that needs to be carried out.

“The CIF allows us to play 28 games in a season, so 21 of those will be Mission League games,” Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert said.

The Mission League plays a three-game series each week, designed to produce an outright league champion each year. Ironically, Notre Dame and Harvard-Westlake had to split the league title last season because one of their three games was called due to darkness and resulted in a tie.

“There’s a lot of talent in the league,” said Notre Dame coach Tom Dill, who’s entering his 32nd year at the helm. “But what I think makes the league the best is the great schools and good families.”

The Mission League has been represented in five of the last 10 CIF Southern Section Division I finals, including the last three. Harvard-Westlake was the runner-up in 2019, won it in 2021, and Notre Dame was the runner-up last year.

Here’s a look ahead of what to expect from each team in the Mission League, breaking down each team’s top players, pitchers and outlook.

NOTE: The Mission League coaches participated in a Daily News preseason coaches poll on media day. The poll will reveal how the teams will finish in league play this season, along with the favorite to win MVP and Pitcher of the Year.

The results of the poll will be at the bottom of the page.

TEAM-BY-TEAM BREAKDOWN

(Alphabetical)

ALEMANY

Head coach: Steve Riggs, 4th year

Top field players: Andrew Garcia, SS, Sr.; Jarrett Segura, 1B, Sr.; Christian Santiago, 2B, Jr.

Top pitchers: Josh Habell, RHP, Sr.; Jacob Ortega, RHP, So.

Potential breakout player: James Quintero, OF, Jr.

Coach said: “We have a good mix of senior leadership and talented underclassman that will put us in a position to compete in a very difficult league.”

CHAMINADE

Head coach: Kyle Wilkerson, 5th year

Top field players: Tyler Garcia, CF, Sr.; Miles Ghossein, 3B, Jr.; Vinny Van der Well, SS, Jr.

Top pitchers: Cristian Brewster, RHP, Sr.; Charlie Decker, LHP, Sr.

Potential breakout player: Jackson Tyler, OF/INF, So.

Coach said: “We are returning Cristian Brewster from last year to lead the staff. Also returning eight position players that started over 10 games for us last season.”

Daily News’ list of the top baseball pitchers to watch this spring

CRESPI

Head coach: Mike Glendenning, 9th year

Top field players: Ethan Kodama, OF, Sr.; Chris Arce, SS, Sr.; Landon Hodge, C, So.

Top pitchers: Isaiah Magdaleno, RHP, Sr.; Diego Velazquez, RHP, Jr.

Potential breakout player: Joshua Rodriguez, 3B, Sr.

Coach said: “This year’s team seems to be better rounded with a lot of upper classmen leadership, which we will be counting on heavily to reach our goals. With key arms coming back and a few adds over the break we feel we have an opportunity to compete for a league title.”

HARVARD-WESTLAKE

Head coach: Jared Halpert, 8th year

Top field players: Will Gasparino, CF, Sr.; Owen Carlson, 2B, Sr.; Kai Caranto, SS, Sr.

Top pitchers: Tommy Bridges, RHP, Jr.; Bryce Rainer, LHP, Jr.; Holden Rath, RHP, Sr.

Potential breakout player: Duncan Marsten, RHP, Jr.

Coach said: “With the return of Bryce Rainer and Duncan Marsten to accompany Tommy Bridges (on the mound), this team has the potential to play the last game on the CIF calendar. Will Gasparino could be the next Wolverine to have his name called in the 1st round of the MLB draft in June.”

LOYOLA

Head coach: Keith Ramsey, 1st year

Top field players: Adam Magpoc, SS, Sr.; Carson Chavez, C/3B, Sr.; Augie Lopez, C/INF, Jr.

Top pitchers: Nathan Savarese, LHP, Sr.; Alex Cohen, RHP, Sr.; Nate Stern, RHP, Jr.

Potential breakout player: Walter Urbon, OF, So.

Coach said: “We are a nice mix of seniors supported by some younger players that should be competitive in a very tough Mission League.”

NOTRE DAME

Head coach: Tom Dill, 32nd year

Top field players: Dean West, CF, Sr.; Greg Pierantoni, SS, Sr.; Madden Ocko, 1B, Sr.

Top pitchers: Justin Lee, RHP, Sr.; Oliver Boone, RHP, Sr.; Levi Sterling, RHP, Jr.

Potential breakout player: Kai Gonzaga, OF, Jr.

Coach said: “We have a talented team and hope to be able to compete the way they we did last year. We are hopefully that our pitching staff can be successful with our three-games a week schedule.”

SIERRA CANYON

Head coach: Tom Meusborn, 1st year

Top field players: Kehden Hettiger, C/1B, Sr.; Omar Cisneros, SS, Sr.; Grant Werdesheim, CF, Sr.

Top pitchers: Jonny Hagopian, RHP, Jr.; Luke Casarez, RHP, Jr.; Brady Hewitt, 2B/RHP, So.

Potential breakout player: Caden Sramek, RHP, So.

Coach said: “Should be strong up the middle defensively. We will see how quickly we can adjust to the new league.”

ST. FRANCIS

Head coach: Shaun Kort, 1st year

Top field players: Holden Deitch, 2B, Jr.; Jordan Lewallen, SS, Jr.; Brody Ruyle, C, Jr.

Top pitchers: Lucas Dixon, RHP, Sr.; Xander Douglas, RHP, Sr.; Liam Thacher, RHP, Sr.

Potential breakout player: Aaron Hernandez, RHP, So.

Coach said: “Our goal is to be in every game and will ourselves to win the last three innings. We have improved our defense, hitting, and pitching this Fall/Winter and are ready to compete in the Mission League.”

COACHES POLL

(Team, first-place votes)

1. Harvard-Westlake (5)

2. Notre Dame (2)

3. Crespi (1)

4. Sierra Canyon

5. Chaminade

6. Loyola

7. St. Francis

8. Alemany

PRESEASON YEARLY AWARDS

MVP: Bryce Rainer, Harvard-Westlake; Will Gasparino, Harvard-Westlake; Adam Magpoc, Loyola

Pitcher of the Year: Tommy Bridges, Harvard-Westlake; Isaiah Magdaleno, Crespi; Oliver Boone, Notre Dame; Justin Lee, Notre Dame; Cristian Brewster, Chaminade

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