Elsie Allen coach laments injuries, transfers

Posted by: Press Democrat correspondent Dewey Forget

Elsie Allen coach Manny DeLaO began the baseball season with 16 players, an average roster size for a high school squad. Before Wednesday’s 11-2 North Bay League loss to Ukiah, he was down to 11 healthy bodies. So, he brought up Ramiro Vasquez from the JV team.

Vasquez, a left-hander, got into the game against Ukiah and pitched the sixth inning, giving up four runs. It was a little like throwing Vasquez to the wolves, but DeLaO has few options. His pitching staff is depleted. His only reliable and experienced starter is Billy McCarty, and he’s a junior. Eric Flores, a sophomore, started against Ukiah, and was mildly effective. Another lefty, junior Brent Collins, also threw one inning.

The Lobos’ catcher is freshman Travis Grossi, who appears to be a prospect with good size at 6-feet-1 and 210 pounds.

A lack of depth has been a problem at Elsie Allen for what seems like forever. DeLaO, in his fifth year at Elsie Allen, said he dismissed four players from the roster this season for various reasons. He also lamented the fact that several talented pitchers from Elsie Allen’s district are pitching for other schools.

“Ian Johnson at El Molino was a freshman at Elsie, and Wesley Deal, Carrillo’s top pitcher, lives in the Elsie Allen district,” DeLaO said. “And Santa Rosa’s top pitcher, Phillip Whipple, also lives in our district.”

One of the problems, according to DeLaO, is the lack of a competitive feeder system, saying the youth league programs that should be building up young athletes before they enter high school, are not adequate.

“Our JV coach may have the hardest job of all,” DeLaO said. “Some of the kids haven’t played baseball at all before high school. They have to be taught almost everything. One kid didn’t know where to stand in the batter’s box. One time a player ran across the bag at third all the way to the fence and was tagged out. He thought third base was like first base.”

DeLaO said he talks with many parents during the summer during various youth league games, and asks them if they intend to send their kid to Elsie. DeLaO said many times parents choose to send a talented player to another school, citing everything from worries about school safety to feeling their child will get a better education somewhere else.

“Of course, that’s ridiculous,” DeLaO said. “Teaching standards are the same at Elsie as at any other school.”

Nevertheless, DeLao feels something must be done regarding the indiscriminate movement of students from one district to another. Meanwhile, the pitching-poor Lobos are left to ponder, what if?