Sporting a 2-2 record, the Palisades High baseball team is eagerly awaiting the start of Western League play on March 18 at home against Fairfax at 3 p.m. After all, the Dolphins are 64-3 since head coach Mike Voelkel took over in 2007.
In the meantime, the Dolphins are sharpening their skills coming off their 10th consecutive league championship in 2012, when they went 19-10 overall and 12-0 against Western League foes.
“I think our expectations always remain the same,” Voelkel said. “We’re always looking to first win our league and then win the City championship.
With 13 juniors and seniors on the roster, PaliHi is considered a savvy team in terms of veteran leadership. Voelkel is counting on a number of seniors to play key roles, especially pitchers Harrison Simon and Taylor Stokes, infielder/pitcher Spencer Simon and outfielders Sam Wasserman and Joey Dills. Harrison Simon and Wasserman were All-City selections last season.
Stokes was dominant in 2012, posting a 4-0 record and 0.28 ERA, while Harrison Simon was second with an equally-impressive 0.58 ERA. Wasserman led the club with 26 stolen bases.
“A big thing is going to be whether we can consistently score runs,” Voelkel said. “We’ve done a really good job of situational hitting and not focusing on the individualistic components of the game, but rather on the team. If our team does well, the individual numbers will obviously stand out.”
Voelkel also is looking to junior pitchers Holt Maybank and Anthony Poulos to contribute, as well as junior first baseman Cade Hulse and sophomore catcher Joseph Fasano.
As always, the key for PaliHi will be how it does at playoff time. Last year, the Dolphins waltzed through league play only to come up with a disappointing performance at home in the first round of the City Section playoffs, a 6-0 loss to Birmingham.
Perhaps that bitter taste will serve as motivation for a team hoping to take the next step in 2013. Voelkel believes the pieces are in place to make a run.
“The strength of our team is the depth of our pitching,” the coach said. “We go 12 deep with our pitchers because we have some real quality arms. We should be in most games and give ourselves a chance to win because any time your pitchers are strong, you have a chance.”
Pali began this season with two wins, 5-4 over Roosevelt and 10-0 over Verdugo Hills. The team then lost to San Fernando (6-5) and Oxnard (11-1) last Friday and Saturday.
On Tuesday, the Dolphins played at Culver City, and today will host Taft at 3 p.m. They host El Camino Real on March 15 at 3 p.m. and play Torrance in the Redondo Tournament on March 16 before their league opener.