Last season, the Arroyo Grande High baseball team boasted pitchers that one opposing coach calls horses.
They were dominant, strong and feared.
Two of them Kyle Raubinger (Loyola Marymount) and Colton Haynes (Cal Poly) graduated to Division I programs. They helped guide the Eagles to a PAC 7 title, the schools first since 2003. High schools in the San Luis Obispo County dont have to worry about them anymore.
But there is plenty of area talent this season capable of filling in their spots.
Nipomos Ryan McNeil is one name. Hes a 6-foot-4 pitcher whos signed with Long Beach State, and he recently showed off his strength by striking out 17 batters in a Los Padres League-opening win over Morro Bay on Tuesday. McNeil isnt the only known college-bound athlete, as Arroyo Grande outfielder Jordan Morrison is headed to UC Irvine.
Both Arroyo Grande and Nipomo will look to repeat as champions in the PAC 7 and LPL, respectively.
I think we have as good a chance as anybody. I dont think anybody is above and beyond everyone, said Arroyo Grande coach Brad Lachemann, who also has another first-team all-county returner in catcher Cameron Petetit. I think everyone is evenly matched.
The anchors of our group are Ryan McNeil, Marc Baker, A.J. Campos and Cole Holloway, said Nipomo coach John Stevens, whose Titans shared the schools first-ever league title with Cabrillo last year. The rest is either new to the situation or theyve been up on varsity but havent played much as the other four.
Heres a rundown of this years county teams in the PAC 7 and LPL:
Paso Robles returns a first-team all-county player in hitter Mac Stuart, who helped the Bearcats to a shared second-place finish in the PAC 7 last year with San Luis Obispo. Paso Robles has eight seniors on the roster. Were going to try to be in contention for the league title, coach Derek Stroud said. Its going to take a lot of work. A lot of people will have to step and play well enough for us to succeed.
Atascadero has seven players with varsity experience and will depend on sophomore Sam Neely on the mound. With being young, we have a good core, Greyhounds coach Paul Teixeira. Guys coming back are solid leaders and well build off of that.
San Luis Obispo will have senior leadership in pitcher Marco Murillo and returning starters Louie Summer and Davis Casciola, who are also all-league members. I think this year is going to be a fairly balanced league, coach Bobby Ryan said. All the teams are competitive. Its good. Its going to be good, fun baseball competitive baseball.
Templeton welcomes back first-team all-county hitter Alex Kotheimer, who is part of a lineup that coach Brad Macomber calls deep with six returning starters. We have more depth. We have some kids who chose to play ball more than the spring months, he said. Quite a few kids played in the summer.
Morro Bay is made up of mostly underclassmen and is coming off an 8-19 season and hasnt had a winning campaign since 2006, according to MaxPreps.
As for Mission Prep, the Royals have no seniors and are looking to build experience this season. Coach Gerry Detz said: Our goal at this point is to be a .500 team. Next year, when we do have that experience, things will come together for us.
In the Coast Valley League, North County Christian is the defending champion after finishing with a 7-1 record.
In the PAC 7 and LPL, theres no telling who will be the top team.
We have a really competitive league, San Luis Obispos Ryan said. Anybody can win on any day.