Leghorns draw players from many schools
Petaluma’s Leghorns senior American Leagion team is once again offering an extended baseball summer school for teenage players who are serious about their game.
The Leghorns are led by St. Vincent High School head coach Spencer Finkbohner with help from his Mustang assistants Patrick Hodges, Casa Grande graduate Charlie Parnow and Brian Fiene who will have two sons on this summer’s Leghorn edition.
“It is our job to get the players prepared for the next level; to get them used to the speed of the game,” explained Finkbohner. “We are pretty young this year. I am excited to see them grow together.”
The coach said he is impressed with players returning from last season. The problem is that there are literally only a half dozen veterans on the roster. Everyone else will not only be going through on-the-job training in not only the speed of the game, but the quality of the opposition and the grind of traveling to tournaments everywhere from Reno to San Diego.
The tournaments and nine-inning games (as opposed to seven-inning games played in high school) put a premium on pitching. When asked about the Petaluma pitching, Finkbohner pretty much runs down his roster.
There is only one player that Finkbohner describes as “a pitcher only.” That is Jacob Greiner, a right-handed Rancho Cotate graduate now at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Not that there aren’t a lot of quality arms available, but all will be called on to play other positions.
While the Leghorns have many of the area’s top baseball talents, Finkboher has reached out to other schools this season calling on players from throughout Sonoma County and even extending into Mendocino and Napa counties.
From Justin-Siena in Napa he has added Nick Andrews, who shared Vine Valley Athletic League Most Valuable Player honors with Petaluma’s Aaron Davainis last season after hitting .439 for his high school team.
There are some intriguing prospects from Maria Carrillo in pitcher/outfielder Wesley Allen and pitcher/infielder Brady Williams.
Caze Derammelaere, Greiner and Nate O’Lear come to the Leghorns by way of Rancho Cotate.
Two new Leghorns, Nelson Owen a catcher and Jake Walton, a first baseman/pitcher, played high school ball at Montgomery.
Austin Ford from Ukiah was the North Bay League Redwood Pitcher of the Year.
Catcher Skylar Llenihian played this spring at College of Marin.
Of course, there are still many products well known to followers of local high schools.
From Petaluma are Logan Fiene, Zach Fiene, Garret Lewis and Mario Zarco. Lewis is now at Santa Rosa Junior College and Zarco at College of Marin.
Joining the team from Casa Grande are the Cox brothers, Mason and Bryce, along with a pair of left-hand pitchers who are also outstanding outfielders, Austin Steeves and returning veteran Evan Johnson, now at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Two young players from Finkbohner’s St. Vincent team, now senior pitcher Eddy Stone and now junior pitcher/infielder Nico Antonini will find playing time.
Actually, everyone will find playing time as the long tournament-filled season unfolds.
Only six players – Zarco, Lewis, Mason and Bryce Cox, Johnson and Fiene – return from last year.
“Our strength will be our ability to adapt and adjust,” Finkbohner said. “We have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions. With our pitching, if a guy doesn’t have it one day, it will be next man up.”
The Leghorn schedule is a little bit different this season, with the emphasis on some big tournaments. One of the highlights will be a trip to San Diego on June 22 -June 26 to play in the prestigious Don Shelton Memorial Tournament. And, the Leghorns will once again return to Reno for the Josh Anderson Tournament on July 7-July 10.
The goal, as always, is the American Legion World Series in Shelby North Carolina. To get there, they first have to get through the area tournament on July 14-18 in Fairfield and state tournament on July 22-26 in Fresno.