Even a team that enters the season nationally ranked in the top 10 has room for a Cinderella story.
The varsity baseball team is the 10th best in the country, according to high school baseball website Perfect Game, and yet it looks to alleviate the pitching vacancy left by MLB signees Max Fried ’12 and Lucas Giolito ’12 from an unlikely source — first year varsity pitcher Conor Cuse ’13.
“Missing Fried is kind of a big deal but with the addition of Conor Cuse we’re going to have that hard-throwing pitcher back again,” pitcher Hans Hansen ’13 said. “Conor’s done so much better in the past year, and I don’t want to say he’s filling the spot of Fried but he’s going to be one of our dominant pitchers.”
Cuse, formerly relegated to the lower level team by often wild pitching, is a power pitcher whose fastball clocks in at 87 mph, according to Perfect Game.
“He always could throw pretty hard but he didn’t have the velocity control, so he was playing on JV just so he could get playing time and get the velocity control he needed, which he has now,” Hansen said. “He’s going to be a very scary pitcher.”
“We definitely have the potential to make a deep run and with the late emergence of Conor Cuse as a pitcher, he’s going to be a surprise to lots of people,” Jack Flaherty ’14 said. “People are hopefully going to be pleasantly surprised with the way he’s going to perform this year.”
“Conor has put in a ton of work and it seems to have really paid off and set him up to have a great senior year,” Head Coach Matt LaCour said.
Cuse rounds out the starting rotation along with Flaherty and Hansen, two of the team’s returning pitchers. Along with USC-commit first baseman Joe Corrigan ’13 and Georgia Tech-bound catcher Arden Pabst ’13, the Wolverines look to win their third consecutive Mission League championship and advance past the second round of CIF, where they fell to Placentia Valencia last year.
“The Mission League’s always a tough league to go through, but I’m pretty confident with the team that we have this year,” Flaherty, who committed to University of North Carolina this past fall, said.
With the exception of its two MLB-drafted pitchers, the team returns most of its roster from last year. Considering that Giolito missed most of last season with an elbow injury, Hansen thinks the team brings back more than it loses.
“We only lost one starting person, that was Max Fried, and the rest of our lineup is last year’s juniors and sophomores,” Hansen said. “So now we’re one year older, and one year better. So I think we might be able to do something very, very amazing with this team.”
The team travelled to Las Vegas this weekend for three preseason games against Nevada teams, including Bishop Gorman, the Nevada state champion every year from 2006 to 2011. The Wolverines lost to Bishop Gorman in the process of going 1-1-1 on the weekend.
The team is set to open the season on Feb. 23 against Cleveland High School, with its first home game slated for Feb. 26 against Rio Mesa.