Calif. Collegiate League... Foresters Womack, & The Packers Threesome
The California Collegiate Summer League stands out for its weather, coastal sceneries, talented baseball stars, and for the media coverage it gets from Fox Sports West. The leagues All Star game will be televised on July 14th and the re-broadcasting gives continued exposure to California baseball. The league was founded in 1994, and since then, players like Matt Garza, and Delwyn Young have graced the leagues different pitching mounds and batters boxes. One of the leagues most prominent power houses are the Santa Barbara Foresters. The Foresters were around even before the league, since 1991 they’ve won 2 national championships. This year, the Barons are making a bit more noise, and the Foresters currently share 1st place with them. One of the major reasons that the Foresters are moving forward this summer is Jared Womack. The sophomore outfielder is leading the league in hitting (.468) after 47 at bats. This past spring as a catcher for Ranger Junior College in Texas, Womack had 21 homeruns, 51 RBI’s, and hit .406 after 170 at bats. Womack is now committed to Oklahoma State for the spring of 2011. Meanwhile the Santa Maria Packers are sitting 1 game behind both the Barons and the Foresters waiting for one of them to falter.
The Packers have 3 players making serious progress, noise, and the static is being felt across the league. James Brooks was a shortstop with Cochise Junior College in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference last spring where he hit .390 after 213 at bats and scored a conference leading 58 runs. Right now as a Packer he has the 2nd best batting average (.435) after 46 at bats. In his last game against the San Luis Obispo Rattlers, Brooks went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s. Everyone is hoping that this momentum endures the summer and proceeds into next year where he has committed to Utah University and their new PAC 10 conference. The Packers biggest strength is pitching. They lead the league with a 2.97 team ERA, and two of those reasons are as obvious as daylight. Matt Morris, a 6’3 left handed freshman is slowly building a quality summer. In 14 innings he’s put together a 1.29 ERA.
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This past spring, Morris opened his collegiate career with Duke and was not given too much of a chance to explore his potential. The little work he did put in did not go very well. In 5 innings he gave up 11 hits, 2 earned runs, and 2 walks and only struck out 1. His ERA is monstrous from a distance at 10.50 and hitters ripped against him with a batting average of .423. In his latest start against the Academy Barons, Morris pitched 5 shut out innings and didn’t figure in the decision .The past is history, learning is in the present, and as Morris is organizing a brand new sophomore season, and his numbers are showing improvement. Ryan Plum is another Packer pitcher that is developing. As a Packer this summer, he’s 2-0 after 3 games and 18 innings. His 1.50 ERA goes well with his 15 strikeouts. Plum is a lofty 6’6 220lb pitcher that has been attending Oklahoma Baptist, and as a junior this past spring showed some pop, but also some struggles. He finished with a 5-1 record after 32.2 innings and 38 strikeouts. The problem with Plum was not the walks (7); it was the amount of hits he gave up (40). Opposing hitters banged out a .294 average against him and his ERA swelled to 6.34. In his last start this summer against the Academy Barons, Plum pitched a complete game, 6 hit, 2 run gem that showed what could possibly become a special summer. Everything about summer baseball is educational; the fact that MLB scouts scrutinize their play is no different from what happens at their respective schools. Still, the pressure is intense and the baseball is of quality.
By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer