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Baseball: Jim Ozella has Hart in first place in Foothill League [Updated]

April 23, 2012 |  8:32 am

If you want a strong candidate for coach of the year, Newhall Hart’s Jim Ozella deserves consideration.

He has the Indians (13-7) in first place in the Foothill League with an 8-1 record, two games ahead of Saugus and West Ranch. And the Indians are playing eight underclassmen in the starting lineup.

“We’re just trying to play good baseball,” Ozella said. “We’ve had a lot of guys step up.”

One of the few seniors is pitcher Ricky Torres, who is 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA. He has been used as a relief pitcher throwing in almost every game.

The No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Baggie Saldivar and CJ Witkowski, are batting .354 and .448, respectively.

Ozella, in his 13th season, doesn’t have a standout on par with the likes of Trevor Bauer or Michael Montgomery, but the Indians have been a big surprise.

Their league season should be decided in the next two weeks, when they face Valencia beginning Tuesday in a two-game series and then West Ranch next week. The game against Valencia was switched from Wednesday because of expected rain.

-- Eric Sondheimer