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Season Preview: Modesto Christian Crusaders


Ryan Ozella
N. California Area Scout

With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California (CCS games start 2/18/19), we've been rolling out team previews from around the state. The Central and Southern sections are already underway.

Today we look at the Modesto Christian Crusaders from San Joaquin Section, Division 5. The Crusaders have groomed their youth over the last few years and are looking to have that youth step up in 2019 to consistently produce as they make a deep playoff run.  

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Team: Modesto Christian

Nickname: Crusaders

Section: San Joaquin Section, Division 5

League: Trans-Valley League (TVL)

Head Coach/Years at school: Mark Butler (4th season)

Team Twitter Handle: @MCBaseball209

2018 Overall Record: 18-12 (6-6, 3rd Place in League)

2018 Postseason Finish: Semi-Finalist in San Joaquin Section, Division 6

Number of Returning Starters: 7

Number of Returning Pitchers: 7

Top Returning Players:

‘19 C Cody Brockman, ‘19 RHP Calvin Pless, ‘20 INF/RHP Jovon Watkins, ‘21 SS/RHP Cameron Butler

Other Players to Know:

‘19 C/3B Ben Laffoon, ‘19 2B Dillon Johnson

College Commitments: N/A

2019 Outlook:

With only a couple hundred kids on campus, the Modesto Christian Crusaders seem to have found the best possible athletes and turned them into a solid group of baseball players. The Crusaders made an unlikely run to the Division 6 semi-finals in 2018 after going 5-19 in 2017, tripling their wins and giving their young roster loads of experience to take and carry over for 2019. Stepping up to Division 5 in the San Joaquin Section will be another chance for the Crusaders to prove doubters wrong and the youth they’ve carried the last few seasons will be counted on to make a name for themselves here in 2019.

Coach Butler has a core group of veterans returning and that will create a deep lineup with seven starters and seven pitchers returning from 2018. When you return a core group in your lineup and almost your entire pitching staff, expectations should be high for the Crusaders. Coach Butler raved about the team’s ability to block out distractions and come together to show strong team chemistry while getting the most out of their talents. He’s counting on the young players to have matured and is looking for more consistency in their day-to-day process for 2019 as they become the veterans and teach the youth the Crusader way to play.

Leading that core group of returners is ‘21 SS/RHP Cameron Butler. Butler led the team in most offensive categories hitting .496 with 21 extra base hits and an unheard of 46 stolen bases, leading the state. One of our Top 2021 players, Butler is instant offense showing off plus speed, bat speed and arm-strength giving opposing pitchers and catchers nightmares. He’s supported by ‘19 C Cody Brockman, a big and strong catcher who flashes pop from the right side with a big arm to match. Brockman hit .438 with 19 extra base hits and 22 stolen bases showing he’s more than just a middle of the lineup threat. ‘20 INF/RHP Jovon Watkins was the Pitcher of the Year in League and his ultra-athletic frame has him competing as a two-way player for the Crusaders. On the hill, he struck out 54 in 56 IP while hitting .414 with 9 extra base hits at the plate. ‘19 RHP Calvin Pless is another two-way player that Modesto Christian will be counting on, hoping he repeats his strong 2018 season that saw him pitch 52 innings while being a middle of the order threat. Add in ‘19 C/3B Ben Laffoon and ‘19 2B Dillon Johnson and that gives opposing teams little chance to pitch around the Crusaders best hitters.

The Crusaders are hoping to build upon the success of 2018 where they saw 9 players play 27 or more games for them. If that group of returners can continue to show day-to-day consistency and growth, opposing teams in the Trans-Valley League will have to circle the Crusaders on their schedule and be at their very best to compete this Spring.

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
Solano-Sac Junior Future Games Trials CA 02/24 Vacaville Christian HS
SoCal Junior Future Games Trials CA 03/09 O'Malley Field - Harvard Westlake
East Bay Junior Future Games Trials CA 03/24 Athenian School
North Bay Junior Future Games Trials CA 04/28 Clyde P. Smith Field - Cardinal Newman HS
Northern California Future Games Trials CA 05/26 Islanders Field
SoCal ProCase CA 06/08 Hart Park

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