The Terrio Classic baseball tournament begins Friday throughout Bakersfield.
The biggest opening game will be Stockdale-Centennial at 6 p.m. Friday at Bakersfield College.
Stockdale coach Brad Showers said ace Sean Mullen is set to start against the Golden Hawks, the tournament’s reigning American Division champions.
Mullen, the 2016 BVarsity Player of the Year, has made a verbal commitment to UCLA and has taken things lightly leading into his junior year for the Mustangs.
He pitched for the USA Baseball U17 National Development Team over the summer in Chicago, and Showers wants his ace to gear up slowly as the season progresses.
“He is just ready to get going,” Showers said. “We shut him down after Team USA. We are gradually bringing him back. He will likely go against Centennial. He and the rest of the guys will be on a 60-pitch limit.”
Mullen is one of three Stockdale players who has committed to a college program; all three are underclassmen.
Second baseman Jalen Smith committed to UC Davis, and sophomore Kade Sheedy, who added over 10 mph to his fastball in the offseason, committed to Cal Poly.
Stockdale returns seven of its top nine hitters from last season, when the Mustangs won the Southwest Yosemite League with a 13-2 record.
“It’s the best group I’ve had,” said Showers, in his fourth year as head coach. “We can run, we’ve got good arms. We’ve just got to get better, and the bull’s-eye is on our back.”
Mullen isn’t the only ace pitcher in the American Division.
Liberty’s Easton McMurray, committed to the University of San Diego, pitched five shutout innings of two-hit ball in the Patriots’ season-opening win over Independence on Monday.
Independence also is in the American Division, but the Falcons will not have the services of ace Kevin Larson. The 6-foot-9 senior who will play baseball at Fresno State is still playing basketball. The Falcons begin play in the Central Section Division II playoffs at home Friday.
Another junior pitcher in the American Division with a college commitment is Bakersfield Christian’s Roman Angelo, who committed to Cal State Bakersfield.
Games will be played Friday and Saturday and continue through next week, with the championship games in the American and National Divisions on Saturday, March 4 at Sam Lynn Ballpark.
The Bakersfield High girls basketball program opens up Central Section Division II playoffs tonight at home against Tehachapi.
Both the girls and boys programs at BHS won the SWYL titles this season with 10-0 records.
It marks the first time since the 1994-95 season that both of the basketball programs at BHS have gone undefeated in league play, according to Central Section historian Bob Barnett. The football team also went undefeated in league play in 1994 and this past fall.
Caneta helps Aggies to SEC title
Former Frontier swimmer Jorie Caneta won the consolation final in the 200-yard breaststroke to help the Texas A&M women’s swimming team repeat as the Southeastern Conference champions Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.
Brock Bonetti, a former Stockdale standout also at Texas A&M, broke the school’s men’s 200-yard backstroke record in 1 minute, 41.77 seconds, placing sixth at the conference finals.