North Augusta will begin play in the Dole National Classic today in Anaheim, Calif.
The Yellow Jackets (10-3) will take on No. 2 Canyon (Anaheim) High in a 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time game, 2 p.m. Pacific Time, in the Classic.
The players feel that Canyon, the defending California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Division II champions, can't be better than defending National Champion and top-ranked Westminster Christian. The Warriors defeated the Jackets, 12-5, in the International Paper Classic in Georgetown, S.C.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Jacket pitcher Jacob Smith said. "We get to play and see some of the top teams in the country."
Canyon High is led by pitcher/second baseman Jeff Leuenberger. As a junior, Leuenberger posted a 13-2 record with an earned run average of 1.75. At the plate, the 6-foot, 180-pounder batted .470 with one home run and 28 RBIs. Leuenberger, a Long Beach State signee, is a second team All-American by Baseball America.
Other top Canyon players include pitcher/first baseman Mike Tomarelli (8-0, 2.36 ERA; .478, 3 HRs, 33 RBI) and designated hitter Brandon Smith (.387, 6 HRs, 41 RBI).
North Augusta coach Drew Hummel said his team will enjoy itself but it plans to win some baseball games as well.
"We are going to play to win," Hummel said. "We're not taking a week off from school to go on a vacation."
Other top squads include No. 10 Christian Brothers; No. 11 Casa Grande (Ariz.) Union and No. 12 Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo, Calif.) High.
Christian Brothers is led by Jay Fik (1996 statistics: .408, 1 HR, 28 RBI); outfielder Peter Lucchesi (.443, 1 HR, 28 RBIs, 5-1 on mound) and pitcher Chris Morgan (6-0, 1.40).
Sophomore first baseman Corey Myers and catcher Casey Myers lead Casa Grande Union. Casey, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior, is a preseason third team All-American.
The Myers brothers are the sons of former Arizona State All-American Clint Myers. Shortstop Billy Joe Richardson is the son of Casa Grande coach Kenny Richardson.
Southern California signee Ric Currier, a third team Baseball America All-American, is the star player for Capistrano Valley. As a junior, Currier was 9-3 with an 1.56 ERA.