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Decker’s Heroics Might Help Other Westside Baseball Players:

When former Santa Monica High star Cody Decker continued his torrid play for UCLA last weekend in a series victory over USC, it might have been a benefit to other Westside players.

         Perhaps Division 1 college coaches will take a closer look at Westside players now.

         There actually was a difference of opinion about Decker when he was blasting home runs for Samohi. Some college coaches talked more about his shortcomings than his attributes.

         But UCLA’s John Savage offered a scholarship and Decker has hit a team-high eight home runs this season for the Bruins, including one on Friday, April 13 and another Saturday.

         UCLA won both games, with Decker breaking a 6-6 tie in the ninth inning Saturday at Dedeaux Field by squirting an infield single that brought home Brandon Crawford, who was running from second on the pitch. Decker, protecting his teammate, reached out and poked the ball toward second base, then beat the throw to first with a headfirst dive.

         Decker was three-for four. He was hit by a pitch, singled twice, homered and struck out.

         He has become the cleanup hitter on the Pac-10 Conference’s second place team and has homered in three straight conference series’, against Stanford, Washington and USC.

         Despite Decker’s success and some outstanding play on the Westside in recent years there are no other Westside players on either the USC or UCLA teams.

         USC recruits heavily from the talent-rich San Fernando Valley and UCLA has increased its national recruiting since Savage became head coach three years ago. USC, which has won 12 NCAA championships, has slipped to sixth place in the conference and is in danger of not qualifying for the 2007 playoffs.

         “I have to defend the caliber of play in our area,” said Decker.

         One current Samohi player, Casey Reese, has signed a letter of intent with UNLV. It will be interesting to see where others from a high caliber group of seniors, end up.

         Similarly, Westside football players have frequently been bypassed. But that appears to be changing.       Samohi defensive back Cameron Collins has been signed by Oregon State and running back Lewis Adeyemi by Villanova. Last weekend Culver City High receiver Damien White committed to Minnesota and the area’s two best quarterbacks, Darius Banks of Culver City and Ryan Katz of Santa Monica, are considered Division 1 talents.

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