High honors for VCA baseball

Lions place four players on all-league first team
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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For the 13th year in a row, the Valley Christian Academy baseball team sat atop the standings when the dust cleared in the 2010 baseball season.


The squad was unable to finish it off with its third straight section title, but it was another great year for the Lions and a number of VCA players. Ryan Cordell shared the Sacramento Metro Athletic League’s top individual honor, as he was named co-MVP along with Bradshaw Christian’s Brady Dragmire.


Cordell was very good for us this season,” said Valley Christian coach Brad Gunter. “He was our No. 1 pitcher and seemed to never miss a pitch when needed at the plate. His work ethic, competitive spirit, and just being a great young man has made him a great asset and representative of what the program is about. He is a player and young man that will be tough to replace.”


Three other Lions were honored as first-team all-league players for their work this season, as all contributed heavily to Valley Christian’s success.


Centerfielder Paul Finnell turned a fast start into an outstanding season and provided the pop Gunter needed at the top of his batting order.


“Paul Finnell had a great senior year at the plate for us,” Gunter said. “He actually changed our line-up early in the season because he got off to such a good start. Paul gave us some pop in the leadoff spot. In the two big games against Faith Christian this season Paul led off the game with home runs.”


Jimmy Shaw was not exactly on the radar when the 2010 season began. The freshman left-hander started out on the junior varsity, but earned a call-up to the varsity very early in the season and became a huge asset for the Lions as a No. 2 hitter and its No. 2 pitcher as well.


“After an early call up to varsity, Shaw never gave up the starting first base spot, and was our two hitter the rest of the season,” Gunter said. “I knew Shaw was going to be a special player, but he progressed a year ahead of schedule and became our No. 2 pitcher behind Cordell. As a freshman his stats are the best of any freshman we had ever had, and he has the potential if he keeps progressing to be the best prospect in school history.”


Junior Casas earned high praise and first-team all-league honors with his work as an indispensable part of the Valley Christian offensive attack and his role as a versatile and talented defender.


“Casas was a big reason for Cordell’s success at the plate this season,” Gunter said. “With Casas hitting behind Cordell, teams had to pitch to Cordell and when they did, Cordell made them pay. When they pitched around Cordell, Casas provided the RBIs and the pop to make us successful.”


The junior was also critical to the Lions season. As Valley Christian struggled to find defensive answers at shortstop when Cordell was pitching, the centerfielder provided late-season answers.


“We were struggling to find the defense behind Cordell and moving Casas to shortstop supplied a sure-handed glove up the middle,” Gunter said. “Having no shortstop experience, Casas told me he would do whatever was needed to help us win. Casas is an absolute gamer and a major reason we were able to succeed this season. He does whatever is needed for us and his bat is always a key to our success.” 



SMAL baseball 2010 all-league team


Ryan Cordell, Valley Christian Academy

Brady Dragmire, Bradshaw Christian


First team

Jr. Casas, Valley Christian Academy

Paul Finnell, Valley Christian Academy

Jimmy Shaw, Valley Christian Academy

E.J. Edinburgh            , Bradshaw Christian

Jake Adkins, Bradshaw Christian

Alex Popovich            , Bradshaw Christian

Daniel Atkins, Faith Christian

Josh Dunham, Faith Christian

Anthony Kersting, Trinity Prep


Honorable Mention

Micky DeFiebre, Valley Christian Academy

Quentin Moore, Valley Christian Academy


Coach of the Year - Brad Gunter Jr., Valley Christian Academy