Teams facing Vista this year better figure out a way to scratch out a run the best way they know how, because the Panthers pitching staff isn't going to give up many runs over the course of a game.
Take a look at last year's statistics and it's obvious why Vista was able to post a 31-4 record and win the San Diego Section Division I championship. Vista had 13 shutout wins and won eight other games with one run allowed. The overall team ERA was just 1.21 and opposing teams batted just .174 with a .268 on-base percentage.
The scary part? The Panthers lose just nine innings out of 243.2 pitched from last year's staff.
"We have tremendous returning experience and talent on the mound with three All-State Team selections," said Vista coach Rick Lepire, who is entering his 17th season at the school. "A 1.21 ERA and a .973 fielding percentage proved to be a good formula in 2012 and it looks to be more of the same this year."
The outstanding pitching depth, and the return of four other starters, makes Vista the No. 6 team in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Preseason National Rankings. MaxPreps is counting down the top 10 teams in the country this week with the final Xcellent 25 set for publication Feb. 19.
and Brett Seeburger
top the list of pitchers for Lepire's club as they combined for 19 wins last year. Both are expected to go in the MLB Draft in June and both have already signed with Division I schools.
Roth was 9-1 last year with a 0.92 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched. Opponents batted just .174 against the University of Arizona-bound star.
Seeburger, considered one of the top juniors in the state last season, has committed to San Diego State University. He went 10-1 with a 0.65 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 85.2 innings pitched.
Roth and Seeburger are also two of the team's top hitters. An outfielder when not on the mound, Roth led the team with a .410 batting average and 22 RBIs. Seeburger, a DH, batted .347 with 16 RBIs.Austin Ott
is also a strong two-way player for the Panthers. One of the top sophomores in the state last season, Ott posted a 7-1 record with a 1.85 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched. He also batted .306 with 14 RBIs.
Joining that trio on the mound is senior right-handed pitcher Dylan Estensen
, who posted a 4-0 mark with a 1.09 ERA. In the field, Zach Mann
(SS) is another potential Division I prospect. He batted .341 with 20 RBIs last year.
While the Panthers lost a number of starters in the field, Lepire is looking at a group of underclassmen who starred on the league championship JV team to fill in the gaps. Juniors Nick Byrd
(CF), Josh Cuppett
(1B) and Brody Roberts
(OF) have joined the varsity along with sophomore Chad Koller
(UTIL) and senior Chris Perry
The road to another section championship will be a little different for Vista this season. Instead of competing in the Avocado East League and the Division I playoffs, Vista has moved to the more competitive Avocado West and is a member of the new Open Division for postseason play.