May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Laguna Hills coach proud of baseball team’s run to semifinal round of CIF playoffs

Laguna Hills baseball players and coaches gather for a team picture. (Photo courtesy Laguna Hills baseball)

Laguna Hills High School’s baseball team, coached by Drew Hillman, came just short of reaching the CIF Division 5 championship game during a memorable season for the program.

The Hawks, making their first appearance in the CIF playoffs since 2013, fell to top seeded Citrus Valley 14-13 Tuesday on the road in the semifinals.

But Hillman said his squad had a lot to be proud of.

“This is was our first playoff appearance since 2013, first 20 win season since 2008, and the first time reaching the semifinals since 2001,” Hillman said Thursday. “We came up a little short at Citrus Valley, but I felt both teams left everything they had out there. It was 108 degrees, it was over a three-hour game,  balls were jumping off the bat, but we competed until the last pitch and had an opportunity to tie the game in the seventh and that’s all I could ask for. I am proud of the legacy that our senior class left behind and home to build off of that in years to come.”

Laguna Hills (20-9) was led by two-way player Scotty Kato, who hit .344 and according to Hillman was “our ace on the mound” with an 8-1 record and 90 strikeouts.

Billy Schellenberg also stood out. He batted .419 with three home runs. “He suffered an oblique strain that limited is role in the playoffs,” Hillman said.

Travis Williams was also outstanding, batting .430 and led the team with 21 RBI.

Five Laguna Hills seniors: Mike Burke, Zach Ferranto, Kato, Williams and Jordan Volk will represent the Hawks playing for the Pacific Coast League in the Ryan Lemmon Showcase Friday night at 7:15 p.m. at Ryan Lemmon Stadium, Hillman said.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com