By Aaron Blevins, 7/26/2012
Outgoing seniors were standouts on Lions varsity squad
While the Fairfax High School baseball team is playing summer ball, prepping for its upcoming season, three of its outgoing seniors have been honored by making the All Western League Baseball Team.
Cameron Nesbitt made the first team as a second baseman, Anthony Mendoza made the first team as a utility player and Steven Giannelli made the second team as a catcher. Second-year coach Steve Dennis said the three provided the backbone of the 2012 team.
“They’re going to be missed,” he said. “They were all very good players. They’re going to leave some pretty big shoes to fill.”
Selection for the team begins with all seven Western League coaches nominating their best players. Then, after each player’s statistics are analyzed, the coaches select first- and second-team award winners accordingly.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Nesbitt said. “I worked really hard for years to achieve this. It’s going to be a great memory.”
The second baseman lettered all four years at Fairfax, and plans to play second base or outfield at West Los Angeles College next year. Nesbitt said he was grateful of the chance to play baseball at Fairfax.
“Overall, it was an amazing opportunity, and I was honored to play on the team,” he said, adding that he is a stronger person because of it. “It was a great opportunity.”
Dennis said Nesbitt was a good all-around player for the team this year, hitting well all season. The coach said Mendoza, who hopes to play shortshop at East Los Angeles College this year, had a strong season at the plate as well. He played third base, second base and catcher for Fairfax last season.
“I feel great — just the opportunity to play with all the great players,” Mendoza said. “It was good.”
Dennis said Giannelli was the No. 1 pitcher for the Lions last year, and he also played catcher.
While the Lions are losing some leadership, baseball appears to be progressing for Fairfax. After being one game from a championship at Dodger Stadium three years ago, the Lions went 5-17 in 2011. The team improved to 12-12 this season.
“We’ve got a good team coming back,” Dennis said.
He said he is the team’s third coach in five years. With so much turn-around, Dennis said he had to instill a larger emphasis on training and fundraising. He said securing opportunities to play in the offseason are key.
“That’s how everybody else gets better,” Dennis said. “We’re a little rough behind the scenes.”
The offseason work began last December, when the team traveled to Arizona to play against traveling clubs from other states. Dennis said the team placed 8th out of 24 teams, earning second in the silver bracket.
He said he expected the team to get “four flat tires and come home,” but they left with rings and trophies. In the silver bracket championship, the Lions simply ran out of pitchers, as the championship game was their third of the day, Dennis said.
“It was a very good trip,” he added. “We did really, really well.”
The team will again travel to Arizona in December, with the season games starting in March. In the interim, the Fairfax High School baseball field is getting some upgrades, as the coaching staff and the players redo its dugouts and bleachers.
Dennis is a Fairfax High School graduate, and came out of retirement to coach the Lions. He previously coached at LACES, earning a Division 3 title there in 2007.