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Archbishop McCarthy Chasing Two In A Row

Rookies no more, the Mavericks return many veterans set to lead them in a quest to repeat as state champions.

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No matter what happened last season, every year there are always guys that come aboard that didn’t experience anything that the returning guys did. For the Archbishop McCarthy Mavericks that means the new guys were not part of winning a state championship, the club’s fifth in six years. Those new guys have not tasted a championship and meanwhile their teammates have felt it before and they want it again even more. It adds a great mix of talent with desire and hard work, and it has been the perfect combination year after year at McCarthy.

A season ago a young and untested group went into the fire for the first time. Having now stood victorious at the mountaintop, they return this year as experienced veterans. The margin of error is smaller and they are rookies no more. With their success has come the ability to raise the expectations. For Manager Rich Bielski and his staff, this is not an issue.

“They are expecting more out of themselves and are not as shy as they were last year,” Bielski said. “There are no more excuses for rookie mistakes and they have worked on getting bigger and stronger and more confident. I’m more tolerant with rookies and younger guys, but as they get older they are held more accountable with what their responsibilities are. They see me being toughest on my veterans and returning players. Everyone does their job and we accomplish our goals.”

They all know what that goal is, and that is to win a state championship and dogpile together to celebrate. Veteran Roger Garcia was a part of that memory last year, and it is something he will never forget.

“That is the greatest feeling in the world; nothing else can beat it,” Garcia said. “I was at the bottom and everybody was on top of me so I could not see them, but it was great. Now we are just telling the new guys to do their job and help us work so we can do that again.”

Each new year brings new challenges, and that includes for the coaches. Any time a team wins a state title there is a target on their back. They are not sneaking up on anybody and nobody is taking them for granted. They are the top game on everybody’s schedule, so the Mavericks use that motivation in knowing that people are going to come after them.

Last year they were the youngest group they had ever had and the coaches did as much teaching as ever. The boys were just soldiers and they responded. They did what was asked of them, they believed in themselves and they got better and better as the season went on.

Roger Garcia will see a larger role on the mound this year.

“Now they have experience, they have been through the fire and they know what it takes,” Bielski said. “We are not going to change the formula at all, and they are just so much bigger and stronger now than last year. Now they don’t just play like them, but they really look like varsity players.”

With a more experienced team the coaches have been able to be more intricate with the teaching and play-calling. The Mavericks have always taken pride in their defense and pitching, and those are the two areas where they have gotten stronger. Returning ace Daniel Federman will lead the starters, along with newcomers Johnny Leonne, Yoordani Carmona and former jv pitcher Preston Sam. The bullpen is also full of experienced hurlers such as Tyler Stamm, Austin Genao and Joey Thompson.

“We love a lot of guys and a lot of key components to the team,” Federman said. “Each pitcher is important and you can’t throw every game, so everyone has to be successful in order for you to win a state championship, which is the ultimate goal. We have such talent at the school and everybody contributed to the state championship last year. Now this year we have a bunch of new guys coming in and the guys returning from last year. We’re having fun and we’re ready to go. It’s going to be a good year.”

Garcia could serve time in the rotation or in the bullpen, and either way he should see plenty of time on the mound.

“I’m just trying to do my job, and whatever role they need me to do I will do,” Garcia said. “I just go out there and try to do my best. I do whatever coach wants me to do. We’re just trying to put our work in and we are not thinking about anything else. We are getting our reps in and working trying to go back to states.”

An offensive unit that returns tons of its pop should also give McCarthy a great shot at another playoff run. Alex Toral, Ubaldo Lopez, Kobe Lopez, Andrew Fernandez and freshman Jake Holland round out a strong infield, while Adan Fernandez, Alex Carballo and newcomer Joe Perez shore up the outfield corps. It is a lineup that is dangerous from one to nine, with a nice blend of speed and power used to maximum potential.

Even with so many veterans on the squad there is always opportunity for the new guys to make their mark and earn a larger role. The guys welcome anything that contributes to them winning.

“It’s a real honor to be here,” said freshman Jake Holland. “McCarthy is well-established and they have won state championships one right after the other, and it’s an honor to come in here and compete for a spot on varsity. From the first day they have made me feel comfortable. I’m still the young guy and the rookie, but they make me feel a part of it.”

The older guys are responsible to teach the younger guys, who had it taught it to them before them. From Brian Gonzalez to Jose Brizuela to Nick Castellanos the traditions have been taught and passed on through this program over the years. The older brothers always teach the younger brothers, then they move up and become the older brothers. It’s a line of succession that has worked very well for the Mavericks.

“So far it has been fun and the team brought us in like we are their brothers,” Carmona said. “It is just a real honor to play here. I’m just going to do my best and work hard.”

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