Point Loma baseball team looking to repeat league championship
The Point Loma pointers won a WHL baseball championship last year with fast hitting, hard throwing and power. But can they repeat? Head coach Jeff Solis knows it’s possible if the players in his new position perform both on the field and at home plate.
Gone are stalwarts such as shortstop Duce Gourson (at UCLA) who homered 8, 13 doubles and 3 triples while batting .426 and driving 29 points, and pitcher Hunter Hargett (at SDSU) who compiled a 2.84 ERA as he batted out 65 batters in 49.1 innings.
But Solis found ways to win during his three seasons in charge of Pointer baseball where he posted a 50-21-2 record, a .704 winning percentage.
This year’s pitching squad impressed Solis with their work ethic in offseason practices and winter league games.
“We’ve got a really good group of pitchers this year and they’ve worked hard to improve and get to where they are,” Solis said as his team played an intrasquad game at David Wells Field last week. “They’re really talented and our new pitching coach Mark Seyler (former SDSU) is really the foundation of that staff. He’s been throwing them and playing really well right now.
Leading this group is right-hander Duke Ekstrom, a junior who committed to Vanderbilt University but is also attracting the attention of professional scouts. Ekstrom posted a 2.08 ERA last year and held opponents to a .185 batting average in 33.2 innings. When not on the mound, Ekstrom plays first base.
Returning pitchers who will see action this year are Dominic Nunes (1.81 ERA over 27 innings), Bubba Nunes (no report, 20 strikeouts in 21.2 innings) and possibly talented senior Kien Vu, an all-CIF second-team outfielder as a caddy. Vu made 11 appearances last year, striking out 28 in 25 innings while walking just nine.
Last year, the Pointers hit 22 homers and Solis hopes his new team can approach that total. So far, that would seem a definite possibility. Over six preseason games, his roster has produced
6 homers, a pace that would produce over 24 playoff games. Junior Jordan Otjen and Vu each hit a pair while Ekstrom and senior Jet Taylor each hit a pair.
But more than power, Solis hopes for an improvement in his batting.
“We’re going to work to improve, be consistent and have a good approach,” he said, “but overall they’re doing pretty well. We’ve worked really hard to get players to think ‘opposing court’, but if you try to hit a line, the home runs will come.
Leading those batters is Vu, an ASU hired and an outgoing, high-spirited player whose batting average of .284 last year included 6 doubles, a triple and 6 homers.
“He is one of our team captains and has a natural ability to lead. But he is a very good player and a very good person. All the players respect and admire him,” noted Solis.
As the defending WHL champion, Solis knows other teams in the county’s toughest league will be looking for his pointers.
“We have targets on our backs and we are aware of them,” Solis said. “All the other teams are strong and very well trained, so we’ll have to play top-notch baseball to win this league again.”
Solis has a group of assistants who “each bring value to our team”, he said. They allow smaller groups in practice “with no one standing around”. In addition to Seyler, they include Jo Jo Storniolo II, Mike Delgado, Kyle Harvey, Darrel Klueber, Tom Vaughn and Tim Ekstrom.
Barrett Frost, another former SDSU player, is the head coach of JV while local veteran Little League coach Scott Sheridan takes the reins of the freshman team.
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