The Wilson Bruins got a taste of CIF playoff success for the first time in a decade last year by reaching the Division 3 semifinals, and the momentum has already trickled into this season.
“The returners have that experience in the playoffs and playing in those pressure-type games,” senior shortstop Alex Seguine said. “So we’ve been able to take some leadership with the young guys who have come in. They’re really coming through.”
Seguine is the best returning hitter for Wilson after compiling 33 hits, 29 runs scored, 15 RBIs and eight doubles in 32 games last year. He will be joined on the left side of the infield with returning starter Crixtian Taveras at third base. Taveras hit .326 last year with 31 hits, 20 runs scored, 17 RBIs and five doubles.
The rest of the Wilson infield is also very talented with first baseman Jack O’Dell and senior second baseman Jaylin Cannon. O’Dell had a breakout sophomore season last year that was highlighted by three incredible over-the-shoulder catches in a playoff game. Cannon was a transfer from Cypress last year, and proved to be a big boost in the postseason when he was cleared to play.
“He’s fit in early well,” Wilson coach Andy Hall said. “He’s got such a great personality and very little ego. He’s obviously a great athlete, and he’s gong to make us really strong up the middle again.”
Also up the middle, junior Nolan Ornelas has moved from right field to center field, and has improved his swing in the offseason. He hit .383 last season with eight doubles. Junior Ryan Smith will take over in right field, and Hall said left field is still a platoon situation with guys like senior Chad Williford.
Junior Roberto Haycox will be taking over catching duties after seeing limited time in the lineup last season. However, he did produce five RBIs in eight at-bats.
“You have to put the puzzle together as your team develops a personality of its own,” Hall said. “Hopefully its the good one that works in the playoffs. That’s been hard without practicing.”
Hall added that his pitching staff has probably suffered most from not being able to practice and build stamina to go deep in games. Junior Ryan Pettway will be the ace of the staff after working hard on his fastball control over the offseason. He will be joined at the top of the rotation by Lakewood transfer Sergio Cazares. The left-hander is a tough competitor who can throw three pitches for strikes.
“No matter the skill level of your team, in the Moore League it’s always going to be competitive no matter what,” Seguine said. “Even if one team is better than the other. It’s just about staying focused and not losing that drive to win.”