In gathering information to preview the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League baseball season, a few things became clear to me. One, the league has a few definite tiers this season. At the top you’ve got Alameda, Berkeley and Encinal. In the middle, El Cerrito, Pinole Valley, Hercules and maybe even Richmond and in the rebuilding stage is De Anza.
The freakish thing about this league is the depth of pitching quality. There’s not just quantity, there’s absolute quality in this league. Berkeley’s Tyler Bremer, Alameda’s Jordan Pries and Encinal’s Zach Boyd could compete against any starter in the East Bay. Then you’ve got Andrew Johnson (Berkeley), Kenny Arnerich (Alameda) and Casey Henneman (Encinal) as the No. 2s and there’s very little drop-off. Toss in No. 3s Derrick Mitchell (B), Justin Miller (A) and Blaine Webber (E) and its readily apparent that these teams will be involved in some low scoring affairs.
So what does the ACCAL landscape look like this season? Here’s the rub. Alameda is the defending NCS 3A champion and lost just three main contributors. So, the Hornets are the big dogs until someone knocks them off. Berkeley and Encinal are a toss-up really because both teams do things a certain way and both have quality athletes this season. Execution will be key for these two clubs. Whoever executes best (and both coaches will back me up on this one, I’m sure) will compete for a league title. After that, you’ve got El Cerrito and Pinole Valley, two teams that have been a bit schizophrenic in nonleague play so that’s kind of a toss-up as well. While Hercules looks like a world-beater with a 5-1 nonleague record, the Titans have yet to play anyone of consequence. Richmond picked up a nonleague win and might be on the way up with a new coach and a new field. De Anza is picking up the pieces with just one senior.
So, that’s how it looks right now on paper. Guess what? We don’t play baseball on paper. Here’s to another great ACCAL season.