Path To A Championship
Once again and for the 20th time in school history, University of La Verne baseball reigns atop the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Though the Leopard baseball program is filled with strong history and rich tradition, the 2012 title run is a story of patience, perseverance and pride.
In a highly competitive season, La Verne earned 20 wins in conference play to earn its first NCAA postseason bid in four seasons. "This year we have six teams that finished above .500 overall and five teams that won at least 20 games," said Leopard head coach Scott Winterburn after the clinching win over Whittier. "To win the league title in such a competitive environment makes it special."
For Winterburn, it is the fourth title in his 12 seasons at the helm of the program, previously earning SCIAC crowns in 2004, 2005 and 2008.
Winterburn's fourth title served as a fitting and propel path to the league championship. Not only did the Leopards get through the league’s hottest team – Whittier had won eight consecutive games – but had to encounter the very pitcher who held the Leos hitless on the same field a month earlier.
La Verne took on the challenge head on and battled Poet ace Ryan Schwenn with timely hitting and support from its own pitcher as Phil Schick tossed the best game of his brief collegiate career at the appropriate time, holding the Poets scoreless through 7.1 innings before giving way to the bullpen.
"Schick had an outstanding effort and gave us a chance," said Winterburn. "We knew the task at hand against a great pitcher in Schwenn, but nothing this season has been easy so in many ways it was the appropriate manner in which to earn our way towards a championship.
With the prospect of losing Ben Hines Field playing its home games away from campus, the Leopards persevered through the adversity and maintained focus throughout.
Whether it be practicing at neighboring Damien High or playing in one of the four different "home" parks in 2012, La Verne's band of gypsies stayed the course as it successfully navigated through the mileage and its opponents towards a league championship.
The veteran leadership of the Leopard squad which includes a 10-member senior class helped navigate through the additional travel and maintain focus on the season at hand.
From players such as Ludvik and Cerafice to Moralez, Hebert, Roenicke and many others, the University of La Verne baseball team's path to the 2012 was without a unique journey.