Senior Austin Locke and the St. Margaret’s baseball team played a nonleague game in Angels Stadium on April 19. Photo: John Cole/proactionphoto.com
Senior Austin Locke and the St. Margaret’s baseball team played a nonleague game in Angels Stadium on April 19. Photo: John Cole/proactionphoto.com

By Steve Breazeale

The St. Margaret’s baseball team entered the season with little to no fanfare. They had just 14 players on their opening day roster, several injuries to key players and were playing under the guidance of first-year head coach Scott Wallis.

Through 17 games, the Tartans are beginning to turn heads.

St. Margaret’s owns a 10-7 overall record and is 5-2 in Academy League play. They cracked the CIF-SS Division 10 coaches poll for the first time this week, and a playoff spot is very much in reach. The Tartans are sitting in third place in the league standings.

Seniors Logan Smith, Austin Locke and Brennan Campbell have helped power an offense that is averaging nearly eight runs a game. Smith leads the team with a .417 batting average and Locke and Campbell are both batting .378.

The team’s standout player of the season has been sophomore Alex Smith, according to Wallis. Smith, who bats leadoff and plays catcher, boasts an on-base percentage of .500.

Freshmen Roberto Gonzalez (.318 average) and Wes Kim (.342) have been a boost to the lineup.

With such a young roster, Wallis wanted to focus on team-building exercises that encouraged his players to compete every day. The coaching staff split the players into two separate teams at the outset of the year, and the two squads have been battling in a friendly rivalry ever since.

The Tartans chart every batting practice and set up a points system that awards “wins” to whichever intra-squad team does better on a given day. The Tartans also compete against each other in home run derby contests with sponge practice balls and wiffle ball bats. The team with the most wins at the end of the season gets to go to an Angels game with the coaches.

“I’m competitive as a coach, and I’ll get fired up sometimes and I want them to reflect that in the way they practice and compete,” Wallis said. “(The competition) changed the personality of the team a bit when we started it.”

In other San Juan Capistrano baseball news:

-JSerra hosted some of the best programs in the Southland last week as part of the annual Boras Baseball Classic. The Lions went 1-2 at the tournament.

JSerra (11-10, 4-4 league) returned to Trinity League competition with a three-game series against Mater Dei this week. The Lions lost to the Monarchs 10-8 on April 25, and won 8-3 on April 26.

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