After upsetting top-seeded St. Francis in last season’s Central Coast Section Division I playoffs, the Carlmont baseball team continued to have doubters, with some calling the win a fluke.
The Scots have come out this season looking to dispel any notion what they did was a fluke.
“We wanted to come out the gates and prove it wasn’t a fluke,” Carlmont coach Rich Vallero said. “We’re always hearing excuses of why we beat [St. Francis].”
Carlmont has made four straight trips to the CCS playoffs, with last season being its first trip out of the first round under Vallero, who is in his seventh year as coach.
“There’s always been talent walking through these halls. I was trying to restore some of the pride,” Vallero said. “Now we feel our program is a perennial power on the Peninsula. … I think we’ve arrived as a program.”
The Scots, who finished second in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division last season, lost some key pieces to graduation, but return a young group with only five seniors and high potential.
“It’s kind of refreshing,” Vallero said. “The reality is we’ve got the best talent that’s at the school. They’re trying to learn.”
Kyle Barret, who Vallero calls a NCAA Division I or pro-ball talent, was an all-league first-team selection last season as a freshman and is a key component to Carlmont’s success.
They also bring back senior Nic Bongi, who was also an all-league selection.
Center fielder Justin Fink finished last season on a 14-game hitting streak and is one of 14 juniors on the squad.
But even the returners are not guaranteed their spots on the field; Vallero emphasized that everything has to be earned.
“We knew we were coming in two-deep at every position,” Vallero said. “Guys are competing for jobs. … We always believe in running out our best nine guys.”
With three weeks left until the beginning of league play, Carlmont is still working to find out who will be playing what roles and Vallero is using his players like chess pieces in games.
“Find out who’s going to perform, who’s going to come through in pressure situations,” Vallero said. “We’ll use the preseason as a tool to evaluate.”
COACH: Rich Vallero, seventh year
NEXT GAME: March 7, at Sacred Heart Prep, 4 p.m.
PAL OPENER: March 21, at Burlingame, 4 p.m.
LAST YEAR: Beat top-seeded St. Francis in first round of CCS Division I playoffs, lost in CCS quarterfinals