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Valencia, West Ranch baseball take different routes for summer

Posted: July 19, 2014 11:16 p.m.
Updated: July 19, 2014 11:16 p.m.

Both the West Ranch and Valencia baseball teams chose not to participate in the Valley Invitational Baseball League this summer.

Instead, both teams have traveled outside of the area for various tournaments around California and beyond.

In West Ranch’s case, the team has logged some serious miles this summer, participating in tournaments in Las Vegas, San Jose, Fresno, Orange County and Cal State Northridge.

Today, the Wildcats will play their final game of the summer against Clovis West as part of the California Classic Tournament, a tournament for which West Ranch was used as a host site.

West Ranch lost to De La Salle 6-1 on Friday, lost to Elks Grove 4-3 on Saturday morning and beat Dana Hills 4-2 Saturday afternoon.

West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill has used the summer to evaluate how his team is looking and check out the new faces that will be on his roster in the spring.

Two former JV players, Eric Williams and Doug Gragg, have started to make their mark this summer.

Williams has pitched and played right field and Gragg has been one of the Wildcats’ hottest bats so far, according to Burrill.

“I think most of the players, parents and coaches would tell you that the summer is the most enjoyable part of the year,” said Burrill. “There’s no pressure in the summer. You can sit back and enjoy the game and work on your shortcomings.”

One of the summer highlights for the Wildcats came while the team was in San Jose and they were invited by Burrill’s former player at Saugus and Oakland Athletics pitcher Tommy Milone to come watch batting practice from the field at Oakland’s Coliseum.

Valencia has similarly traveled around, stopping in Orange County, Sacramento and Fresno along the way.

This weekend, Valencia is taking part in the same California Classic tournament West Ranch is playing.

The summer season wraps up for the Vikings today at Valencia High School against Buchanan High of Clovis.

It will conclude a summer schedule of a little more than 20 games.

Players who have made strides this summer include Golden Valley transfer and infielder Lukas Granado.

He and outfielder Doug Sullivan, a former JV player, have been the bright spots of the Valencia lineup.

Valencia assistant coach Mitch Graff, who has largely been in charge of the team over the summer, also said varsity returning pitcher Dylan Thomas has looked sharp lately.

“It’s just a matter of watching these kids just get a little bit better over the summer,” Graff said.


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