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Baseball: Royal discovers a standout off JV team

March 11, 2011 |  6:54 pm

A year ago, there was no place on the varsity team at Simi Valley Royal for Atherton Kniseley, who played shortstop but would have sat on the bench behind all-star Cody Buckel. Kniseley played junior varsity as a sophomore and won the team MVP award.

Now, in his first season on varsity, Kniseley has nine hits in 12 at-bats in helping the Highlanders to a 4-0 start. He hit his second home run of the season on Friday during Royal's 8-6 victory over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, sending the Highlanders into the championshp game of the Southern California Invitational on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Birmingham.

Coach Dan Maye said Kniseley approached him during the summer and asked, "Coach, what do I need to do to start?" Maye gave him some tips and goals, and Kniseley has become the team's starting third baseman as a junior.

Kniseley would stay after practice and ask the coaches to hit him more balls. It's that kind of work ethic that has aided his early season success. Justin Greco added a two-run home run on Friday. Royal opened a 5-0 lead. Notre Dame received a two-run home run from sophomore J.J. Muno.

Royal will face the winner of the Oxnard-Sylmar game in Saturday's final.

-- Eric Sondheimer