The last two years haven’t been the finest moments for Crossroads baseball.
A 7-12 record in 2006 was followed by 7-13 last season. In both years the league record was 1-7. It wasn’t just the losses, but rather the side effects a lack of success often brings, leading to the likelihood something would be required to change.
And it has.
Coach Matt Amido returns but will share the position with Pat Armstrong, a former high school and college player who brings instant enthusiasm to the program.
Armstrong coached the Crossroads junior varsity the last three years.
Armstrong, who played at University High, Arizona State U. and L.A. Valley College, has the opposite personality of Amido. Armstrong is outgoing and is expected to be, as he describes it, “the voice of Crossroads baseball.”
Amido, also a former player, is subdued with the media but an outstanding baseball man. It could be that a combination of the two will reverse the direction of the Crossroads program.
“I’m very comfortable with the arrangement,” said Armstrong, who has coached extensively in the Santa Monica Little League. “I’m enthusiastic with the kids. Matt is quiet but he’s one of the best persons I’ve ever known. We’re going to make the game simple for the players.
“Although the record wasn’t real good last season we have some promising players. A goal would be to do much better in the coming season, then go deep into the playoffs the next year.”
Because Amidio lives in Whittier it’s been difficult for him to arrange and participate in off-season workouts.
Armstrong lives in Santa Monica and in recent weeks has guided Crossroads players in morning workouts at Clover Park.
Armstrong lists four players when asked who’s most likely to be instrumental if Crossroads improves its record.
Caleb Hodge will be a four-year starter and was Crossroads’ best player last season. He played centerfield and led the Roadrunners in batting with a .423 average. He also pitched.
Catcher Jake Rosenblatt-Berg is a 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore with vast potential. Anders Leyva is an outstanding shortstop and Jason Schneider a senior pitcher who learned how to get hitters out without a blazing fastball, then grew and developed one.
“He knows how to pitch,” said Armstrong.
Another player drawing early attention is Ben Roebuck, who arrives as a freshman after starring in the Santa Monica Little League. Armstrong says Roebuck will be in contention to be the Roadrunners’ first baseman.
“Nobody will be assured of playing time just because they’re seniors,” said Armstrong. “We haven’t had much competition for positions here in the recent past but we think competition is a good thing.”
Armstrong, who is 42, remembers when current Crossroads athletic director Chuck Ice was the most prominent high school baseball coach on the Westside.
When Armstrong considered becoming a coach he visited Ice. Now Armstrong has reached the varsity level at a time when the Crossroads baseball program needs a boost.