MTAL baseball

Mission Trail Athletic League
 No doubt King City did not handle the pressure to well when it found itself locked in a tie for first place going into the final week of the season last spring.
 Three straight losses to close the Mission Trail Athletic League season sank their hopes. Than again, what did you expect from a youthful group that had never been in that position before?
 That taste, though, of being in a pennant chase, is something the Mustangs can draw upon this year, because they won't be sneaking up on opponents this spring.
 King City isn't a sleeper team this season. It will be one of the favorites,  having returned the core of its pitching staff, anchored by Armando Pina.
 It won't hurt having seven starters back, including Clay Barbree, Cedrick Petty and David Ortiz, not mention hot hitting freshman Jeovani Santoyo.
 Of course, there is this other program that has been a thorn in most MTAL teams' side for the better part of 45 years in defending champion Carmel.
 The Padres and their 36 league titles over the last four decades aren't going anywhere. This is still arguably the most potent lineup, anchored by Christian Stapleton, who already has two homers.
 While Carmel's top four hitters did graduate, all-league catcher Daniel Higman is back near the top of the order along with slugger Ben Weber.
 Pitching will be the key for Carmel. Does it have enough? Returning all-leaguer Elliott Bouc is back along with Dylan Houpt.
  Never discount Soledad, who again is off to a hot start at 4-0 in the preseason. Chris Villarreal is the ace of the staff and will provide some punch in the lineup.
 Isaac Lopez and Adrian Lopez are both stinging the ball at the plate this season for the Aztecs, with Adrian emerging as a No. 2 starter on the hill.
 If you're looking for a sleeper team, don't ignore Greenfield, who found itself in playoff contention last year until dropping two of its final three games.
 JJ Rodriguez is a three-year starter that can bring it on the mound while Tony Castro is a returning all-leaguer.
 Perennial MTAL playoff contender Pacific Grove will be dealing with growing pains this spring. But it would be foolish to assume it won't be in playoff contention.

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