LAS VEGAS -
In his brief time as the baseball coach at Bishop Gorman, Nick Day has tended to downplay expectations for his team. But as he prepares to enter his second season with the Gaels, Day offered effusive praise for the six-time defending Nevada state champions.
"If everybody plays up to their potential, this probably is the best team ever at Gorman," Day said. "There's always ifs. We've still got to go out on the field and see how good we are."
That's heady stuff for a program that topped the MaxPreps Preseason Xcellent 25 National Baseball Rankings in 2009 and 2011, has been a mainstay in the national polls for several seasons and begins the 2012 season ranked No. 1 by in the Preseason Xcellent 25 Baseball Rankings.
Of course, Day has plenty of reason for optimism.
The Gaels welcome back 15 seniors from a team that finished 35-4 and No. 7 in the final rankings, including MaxPreps All-American Joey Gallo
. The 6-foot-5 slugger hit .471 with 25 home runs and 76 RBIs as a junior and was named MVP of the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings after he blasted a 442-foot home run at PETCO Park in San Diego.
Gallo signed with LSU and the projected first-round pick leads a record-setting offense that features Arizona State signee OF Johnny Sewald, 2B Justin Jones (UNLV), and seniors SS Tyler Baker and OF A.J. Van Meetren, along with junior OF standouts Kenny Meimerstorf and Jerrell Latham.
Two-way standout Cody Roper signed with UNLV after hitting 11 home runs and going 10-0 with a 0.66 ERA as a junior. He and RHP Evan Dunn (Pepperdine) top a deep pitching staff that will get a boost from Gallo and his mid-90s fastball.
"We plan to definitely use him more," Day said of Gallo, who was 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA in 18.2 innings last season. "He was in the closer role last year, but we didn't need him much."
The core of this team advanced to the American Legion World Series in the summer, and expectations for the Gaels will be equally as high this spring.Local look:
"Gorman has won the last six state titles, and it's hard to imagine anyone ending that reign this year. The Gaels lost a couple of quality players in UNLV signees T.J. White and Erik Van Meetren. White might have been their best all-around player last season, but outside of those two, Gorman returns pretty much everyone. Joey Gallo has incredible raw power and should continue to lead the offense, and Cody Roper gives them a quality arm at the top of the rotation."- Damon Seiters, Las Vegas Review-Journal