Hillsdale hoping 2010 success carries over to new campaign 

Last year, the Hillsdale High School baseball team rode a late surge following a third-place finish in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division all the way to the Central Coast Section’s Division III championship game.

The memories of that season-ending 8-2 loss to Menlo are the driving force behind the Knights this spring, especially for the seven returning starters and their coach Neal Donohoe.

“We’re hoping to get back to the section championship game,” Donohoe said. “But there are a lot of good teams out there in the section and many of them are in the Bay Division with us.”

Hillsdale was off to a 4-1 start on the season going into Saturday’s game against Crystal Springs Uplands and the Knights had outscored their opponents 22-10 so far in nonleague action. But the Knights’ offense isn’t the driving force behind their success as far as Donohoe is concerned.

“Our attention and focus is on defense and pitching,” Donohoe said. “Our players are behind that all the way. Most players just want to hit.”

The Knights have only committed one error in their past four games and they will need to keep up that level of play as they near their PAL Bay season opener in two weeks against El Camino.

“We’re the only Division III team in [the] Bay,” Donohoe said. “Everyone else is Division II and will be tough to beat.”

Donohoe will lean heavily on three returning starters in particular, starting with senior center fielder and pitcher Kody Barden, who hit .346 last year and is off to a .333 clip so far this season.

Barden has already won one game, going three scoreless innings in the process.

Senior pitcher Eddie Pagano and sophomore shortstop Armando Fajardo will also be pivotal to the Knights’ success. Donohoe is also counting on help from a few newcomers to this year’s team.

Austin Parker, a senior transfer from Serra High School, will direct the pitching staff from his catching position and should bring some offense along with him. Another transfer, junior pitcher Robbie Foiles from Bellarmine, will throw plenty of innings for the Knights and Hillsdale’s defense should get a lift from junior varsity call-up Alex Tyler.

Donohoe figures the teams that will likely stand in between his Knights and a Bay division title this year are Burlingame and Carlmont. But he isn’t ruling any of the other teams out.

“All the teams in our league are pretty solid,” Donohoe said. “We have to come out and play every day. We don’t have any off days with our schedule.”


Hillsdale breakdown

COACH: Neal Donohoe

LEAGUE: Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division

2010 RECORD: 19-12, lost in Central Coast Section Division III championship game 8-2 to Menlo

2011 RECORD: 4-1 (Entering Saturday’s game)

KEY PLAYERS: Pitcher-oufielder Kody Barden, catcher Austin Parker, pitcher Robbie Foiles, shortstop Armando Fajardo

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