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Clip: Rebuilding for next ball season

02/01/2010

Complete article appeared in The Telescope (Feb. 1, 2010)

At the community college level, each baseball season is about rebuilding.
For as quickly as a player comes in, he leaves whether through graduation, a four-year scholarship or, in some cases, onto professional baseball through the Major League draft.

Add all this together, and they equal a Palomar Comets baseball team that has left coach Buck Taylor to regroup.

“Last year, we had a great sophomore group,” Taylor said. “They’re gone and are tough to replace but that comes with being at a community college. You are rebuilding every year.”

That sophomore group Taylor referred to consisted of shortstop Tyler Saladino, pitchers Bobby Shore and Sam Jew, and last season’s surprise Brenden Webb, whom the Baltimore Orioles drafted and who is now in their farm system.

Taylor’s team last season was a blend of strong pitching and a power-hitting offense. That mix led to a Pacific Coast Conference championship and a No. 1 seed in the Southern Regional playoff. The Comets played host to the Southern Regional before losing in the Super Regionals to Santa Ana.

This year’s Comets, ranked No. 4 in Southern California and No. 9 on the West Coast, start with many uncertainties.

To deal with their inexperience, Taylor and his coaching staff worked on everything from running bases to catching a fly ball to executing a bunt.

“We hammered fundamentals in the offseason,” Taylor said. “You hate to do it, but it’s something we have to do to continue to be competitive.”

The most notable returnee is sophomore Alfonso “Fonzy” Casillas, who will switch from first base to third base.

“He’s cleaned his body up and has drawn a lot of interest from professional scouts,” Taylor said.

He was thrown out of the last game of the 2009 season against Santa Ana for an altercation with the Santa Ana dugout. Rules state he must sit out the next game, so he will not play in the first game of the 2010 season.

That first game will be Feb. 3 against Saddleback, which should serve as a good gauge of how good Taylor’s Comets are. They will then play Santa Ana in a rematch of last year’s Super Regional Finals, a somewhat fitting matchup as Casillas makes his season debut against them.

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