Peninsula baseball 2020

Peninsula’s Eli Sommers follows through on a swing in a game over the winter. Sommers willbhe looked to as a catalyst for an inexperienced Peninsula lineup under first-year coach Derek Nicholson. (Photo by Ed Perez)

Peninsula baseball coach Derek Nicholson's first order of business is turning around what he called a disastrous 2019 season.

Peninsula finished the year 12-17 overall, including a 5-5 Bay league record. So the first-year coach and his staff will rely on the team's 14 seniors to provide a needed boost in 2020.

"This year's group will be fashioning a new identity," Nicholson said. "The seniors who will be getting a bigger opportunity this season, and they will need to be at their best to improve on last year."

One thing Nicholson is looking to see is the team's well-rounded pitching staff.

This season, seniors Kioto Shimamura and Eric Weston and junior Josef Govednik lead a pitching staff that, at the top is seasoned, but behind those three, is looking to earn varsity experience.

"Over the years, Peninsula has been known for its pitching prowess," Nicholson said. "This season will be no different. We will rely heavily on (Shimamura, Weston and Govednik), and right behind will be inexperienced but very effective pitchers."

Nicholson is looking to Hiroki Kamata, Gordon Hur, Bryce Hiroka, Jakob Perez and Liam Miller to provide innings behind the Panthers top three pitchers.

Offensively, the Panthers are led by junior Eli Sommers. As a sophomore, Sommers racked up 30 hits and 11 RBIs while posting a .370 batting average.

Just as he described with the offense, the defense is something Nicholson is tabbing as "interchangeable."

"The offense and defense is littered with interchanging parts," Nicholson said.

Just as with its pitching, Peninsula will look to its inexperienced players to step up both in the field and at the plate.

"We'll need our inexperienced players to step up around (Sommers)," Nicholson said.

The first-year coach is looking for third baseman Joe Rhodes to rebound after a lackluster sophomore season, and he's already noted that the lower levels are looking promising for the future.

But one freshman has already caught the eye of Nicholson and his coaching staff: Jack Gold.

"Look for (Gold) to be a big contributor before it's all said and done," Nicholson said. "Both his speed and glove are exceptionally plus overall tools that won him a spot on varsity, and he'll be used in all different kinds of ways that will contribute to our success this season."

Peninsula's remaining nonleague schedule consists of games against West Torrance (March 3, March 18), Santa Monica (March 26) and Ocean View (March 28) before kicking off Bay League play with Leuzinger (April 10).

Peninsula will close the season with a special home-and-home series with rival PV. The April 27 matchup will be played at PV High, while the April 29 regular-season finale will be played at Loyola Marymount for the second consecutive year.

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