By Phil DaileyBaseball season is upon us, and for the La Jolla Country Day Torreys, they have a season of high expectations.
Despite the team’s record of 2-3 (as of Monday), the Torreys are looking to challenge themselves with tough competition with their early-season schedule.
As well they should as the Torreys are coming off their best season in school history, winning the San Diego Section’s Division IV title last season, a 7-0 route of Francis Parker in the championship game.
“There were some special seniors in that group. Especially from a leadership standpoint,” said head coach John Edman, now in his 13th season for Country Day.
Two players from last year’s squad are now playing in college with Anthony Torres at Iowa and Austin Rooke, who is playing at Miami University Hamilton, in Ohio.
This year’s team also has some top-level talent with seniors Sam Ayala, Ian Lutz as well as a junior class chock-full of playmakers.
But despite the talent, this is a group that knows how to have fun together as well as understands when it’s time to get to work.
“We got a great group of guys,” said Ayala, who will play baseball next year at UC-Santa Barbara. “We all care about each other. We love to play the game most of all. We have tons of fun out here.”
The Torreys are in the middle of an early-season schedule that is going to challenge them well beyond what their conference schedule will. The team already played in the Aztec-Foothiller Tournament for the first time ever, facing teams such as Helix (last year’s Division II champion) and Eastlake (CIF Division I qualifier last season). Though they lost those two games, they were competitive with scores of 6-4 and 6-3, respectively.
“They were good ball games,” Edman said. “But the good thing for us is that those teams make you pay for your mistakes.”
The team will head to Arizona this weekend to play in a tournament in Phoenix and the weekend after (April 2) is the San Diego Lions Tournament. In the past few years the Torreys have won their division (5A champs in 2011, 3A champs in 2010), but this year Edman and his squad will bump up to the Premiere Division.
“We did it with the idea that we had a pretty good team and taking a loss or two — taking our lumps early on — was OK as long as we knew we were getting better,” Edman said.
“We have no light games in our schedule, and by design,” Edman said. “We have a lot of guys who want to play in college and this will definitely get them better. We also feel like this is a decently-talented group and we want to see how talented.”
If nothing else, a tough schedule gets the team ready to for a run at another CIF title.
“We know we’re gonna be ready,” Ayala said. “No offense to (Division IV), it’s great competition, but obviously in the higher divisions you get better competition and better pitching.”