For a few weeks during the 2012 season, the Mater Dei Monarchs were the best team in the nation.
Making the trip across the country to the inaugural National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., the Monarchs knocked off some of the top teams in the country, including then-No. 1 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 10-3 and No. 2 Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas), 13-0. After a 4-1 victory over Sarasota (Fla.) in the semifinals, Mater Dei held off Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) 3-2 for the championship.
But while the Monarchs (24-6) dominated against the best competition from across the country, they found that their stiffest competition during the rest of the season was right in their own back yard. Cypress greeted Mater Dei on its return trip from the East Coast with a 5-1 defeat in early April and Orange Lutheran handed Mater Dei an 8-3 loss in Trinity League play later in the month to edge the Monarchs for the league championship.See the entire Mater Dei Preseason Xcellent 25 photo shoot
In the postseason, Mater Dei saw its season come to an end when a hot Newbury Park team captured a 5-3 win in the third round. Newbury Park went on to win the Southern Section Division I championship.
But the Monarchs have plenty of senior leadership returning from last year's team, including two potential Major League Baseball draft picks and arguably the best catcher in the nation. So while the Monarchs didn't win a section or league championship last year, they begin the 2013 season as the highest-rated Southern Section team and the No. 10 team overall in the MaxPreps Preseason Xcellent 25 National Rankings.
MaxPreps begins its countdown of its Preseason Xcellent 25 National Rankings by counting down from 10 to No. 1 with the top team to be revealed Feb. 17. The rest of the Xcellent 25 preseason rankings will be posted Feb. 19.
Coach Burt Call enters his 15th season at Mater Dei and he's put together a team with two potential draft picks and a solid pitching lineup.
"We have a strong offensive group led by Jeremy Martinez
and Ryan McMahon
," said Call. "We also have a strong pitching staff which returns Davis Tominaga
and Charlie Vorsheck
Martinez is the most visible of the Monarchs, as he has been a member of Team USA and has been an All-American candidate since his freshman season. He ranks among the top five high school catchers in the country and could be the first high school catcher chosen in the MLB Draft.
McMahon is expected to go in the later rounds, however he could also end up at USC where he, along with Martinez, has signed to play next year. McMahon batted .353 last year while playing third base.
Tominaga, meanwhile, has signed to play at Portland. He's coming off a strong season in which he was the No. 2 pitcher behind All-American Ty Moore. Tominaga went 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA and 41 strikeouts. He's joined in the rotation by Vorscheck, who went 5-1 with a 4.76 ERA.
The Monarchs have a pair of players who could eventually end up at the University of Oregon. Austin Grebeck
, the team's returning centerfielder, has signed with the Ducks while Brendan Perez
, a sophomore shortstop on this year's Mater Dei squad, has already given his commitment to Oregon.
Like last year, the Monarchs will play a tough schedule. Besides competing in the Trinity League, one of the toughest leagues in California, the Monarchs will head back to the National High School Invitational to defend their title in late March.
Mater Dei returns home March 31 and will have little time to rest. The Monarchs are scheduled to compete in the inaugural Boras Classic on April 2. The event will feature the top teams in the state with a Southern California bracket and a Northern California bracket. The winners of the two regional brackets will face each other the following week.