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Chuck Berrington has coached varsity baseball in Southern California for 13 years and has made the playoffs in all but one of those seasons. He has coached at Westlake High School, Taft High School in Woodland Hills and at Providence High School in Burbank. In his time coaching, he has acquired one skill that has proven to be a key to his success.
“I’m the fixer of programs,” Berrington said. “I am good at starting over a program from scratch.”
That skill will serve him well as he enters his first season as the head coach of the Fairfax High School baseball team. The Fairfax Lions finished last season with an 18-12 overall record and 6-6 in the Western League, good enough for a third place finish behind Palisades High School and Westchester High School respectively. They won two games in the CIF City-Section playoffs before getting bounced 2-1 by Venice High School.
This season, the team has a completely new look after losing nine players to graduation, full of juniors and freshmen, with a few seniors and sophomores sprinkled in for flavor.
“Our freshmen have to pick up the varsity game a lot faster than they probably should,” Berrington said. “It’s a big step to face varsity pitching. There are only two guys on the team who got playing time consistently last year.”
Despite the inexperience of the team, Berrington will not be going into games without any weapons. Junior starting pitcher Steven Giannelli, returns to the team after a solid 2010 season where he finished with a 5-1 record and a 1.24 ERA in 34 innings. He was named to the CIF All-City Section team and Berrington expects a lot of big things from his ace pitcher.
“I knew he was the horse and the most talented player on the team when I first arrived,” Berrington said. “I see a lot of upside in him.”
Berrington added that Giannelli still needs to learn a few things like how to take better care of his body and his arm, but he expects him to move on and eventually pitch at the college level.
Berrington said he expects the Lions to win most of the games Giannelli starts. With him starting one game per week, that leaves one game where his young hitters can step up and carry the team. Juniors Cameron Nesbitt, Anthony Mendoza and senior David Wente are going to have to step up and carry the team offensively this season, according to Berrington.
The young Lions got off to a rough start this season, losing their first three games, all on the road. They finally got on the winning track Monday with a 5-4 vicory over Lincoln High School in six innings after the game was called due to darkness.
Whether the Lions can pull off a playoff run this season remains to be seen, but their future looks promising.
“I see a bright future next year with the juniors becoming seniors and the young guys getting another year of experience,” Berrington said. “That’s how you build the program from the bottom up.”
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