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Confident bunch
Martin Gomez has every reason to be supremely confident entering his final season with Central Valley High School's varsity baseball team.

"I'm not trying to sound cocky," the third-year standout said. "But every time I go out there and pitch, I'm pretty sure we're going to get the win. I have that mindset."

Gomez (P/IF) and fellow returnees Israel Trevino (SS, Sr.), Brian Creek (1B/P, Sr.), Greg Guerra (3B/P, Jr.), Luis Rodriguez ( 2B/OF, Jr.) and William Mestas (CF/P, Jr.) will try to lead the Hawks to their first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section postseason berth during the 2009 campaign.

"It's my senior year," Martin said. "I want to do as much as I can for this program. We're young, but I think we have the talent to be a playoff team."

Central Valley graduated six players from last year's team, which compiled an 11-15-1 record and finished in a three-way tie for fifth place with Ceres High and Sonora in the Valley Oak League standings (6-8). The Hawks doubled their overall and conference win totals from their inaugural varsity season.

Senior utility player Rick Rogers suffered a knee injury while playing for Central Valley High School's football team in the fall and was lost for the season.

The Hawks' 15-player roster features eight newcomers, including Damien Adams (P, Sr.), Angel Gallegos (OF/2B, Jr.), Vince Lopez (OF, Jr.), Jonathan Merino (OF/1B, Jr.), James Melton (3B, Jr.), Jesse Perea (OF/C, Jr.), Chris Moscozo (OF/P, So.) and Scott Myatt (C, So.)

"A lot of the other schools lost their main players too," Gomez said.

A year ago, the top three programs in the Valley Oak League qualified for the playoffs.

Just two of the conference's eight teams advance this season.

"Oakdale (the defending VOL and Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion) is the only team we have to worry about," Gomez said. "We almost beat them last year."

Martin earned first-team, all-conference honors as a junior. He compiled an 8-4 record (5-3 league) with a 2.91 ERA, 93 strikeouts, 33 walks, eight complete games, one shutout and two saves. He limited opponents to a .193 batting average.

Gomez and Central Valley defeated East Union (7-6), Sierra (8-2), Sonora (2-1), Ceres High (4-3) and Weston Ranch (11-0) in conference play.

Martin and the Hawks dropped a 1-0 decision to Oakdale.

Gomez also ranked in the top three on the team in eight offensive categories, including first in homers (1), triples (3), walks (16) and RBIs (17), and second in doubles (4), runs (13), on-base percentage (.411) and slugging percentage (.451).

Martin was named to the VOL second team during his sophomore year. He posted a 3-3 record with a 3.07 ERA, 45 strikeouts and five complete games. Gomez won decisions against Ceres High, East Union and Weston Ranch. The Hawks eliminated the Bulldogs from playoff contention on the final day of the season.

When asked what it would mean to him if he received league recognition for the third straight year, Martin said: "I'd rather win than to be noticed like that. Hopefully, we go to the playoffs. That's our goal."