- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In High School
Just like the football, basketball, and track programs, Serra High School's baseball team is dominating their competition.
Dominic Smith is one of a few Serra athletes that is making a name for himself on a national level. The junior is on USC’s radar, and he was the first ever sophomore to make the Milwaukee Brewers scout team. Photo by Jason Lewis
Dominic Smith batted .551 this past season and hit a homerun against every Camino Real League team, which earned him the league’s MVP award. Photo by Jason Lewis
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Serra High School in Gardena has been a sports factory for years, producing numerous state championships in football, basketball, and track. They have also sent a number of athletes to division I college programs.
Without as much fanfare, their baseball team has dominated the South Bay over the past couple seasons. Serra’s head coach Wil Aaron said that it was because of great coaching, great training, and great players.
“We teach and we train,” Aaron said. “Our kids know how to run the bases. When you leave Serra you will be able to go D1 (college). You will be able to play D1 baseball, you will be able to play professional baseball. We do certain things right. We have an excellent coaching staff.”
Serra has won 20 or more games in each of the past two seasons, and the only thing that has eluded them is a state title. When compared to the other sports teams at Serra, Aaron more than feels that the baseball team is right there with them.
“This team, this program, is for real,” Aaron said. “You want to judge a program by its coaches. Its teachers. If you can teach and train then you can continually win. We’re going to win. They’re not going to stop us. We are on par! Yes we are. We just haven’t gotten that state title yet, but we’ve proven that we can play some baseball. We mercy ruled every team in the league in the first round last year, big time! If these kids go out and do what they’re trained to do, and the coaches go out and train, then we’re going to win.”
Aaron says that his team is built on speed, power, and hitting the ball in the gaps for extra base hits. The team works on their baseball skills, and just like the athletes from the football, basketball, and track teams, the baseball players can be considered super athletes. Aaron is a big time believer in building his players into strong and fast athletes to enhance their baseball abilities. In the fall they do a lot of core work, footwork, working on the hip flexor for speed and strength training.
“When these kids come out in the spring, they are like monsters,” Aaron said. “We have the football and basketball team watching us and taking some of our drills. This condition program is run like a collegiate program. It is beyond the basic high school stuff.”
Serra’s star player is Dominic Smith, who is one of the top players in the nation. The junior is a baseball phenom, as he was the first ever sophomore to make the Milwaukee Brewers scout team, which played their games at USC.
“He’s a smart hitter, he understands the game,” Aaron said. “He plays the game beyond his age.”
This past season Smith hit a homerun against every team in the Camino Real league, and he batted .655 against league opponents, .551 overall, on his way to the league MVP. He has been named to the All CIF team after each of the past three seasons, and he is leaning to playing college baseball at USC, if he does not turn pro right out of high school.
If Smith does choose USC, he will have company there. Just like the football team has been feeding USC with great players, USC’s baseball coaches are starting to pay attention to what is going on at Serra.
Senior Reggie Southall will be heading to USC in the fall, and players such as junior Jamiel Robinson, who was also All CIF, and sophomore Denz’l Chapman are on the radar.
Robinson was one of the nations leaders in terms of slugging percentage, and Chapman was second in the nation with 60 stolen bases. Aaron coached Long Beach Poly’s Deshon Jackson, who went on to play football at Cal and is now with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson is one of the fastest players in the NFL, and Aaron said that Chapman is faster than he was at this same age.
Another young player who will be on several colleges’ watch lists is Duncan McKinnon, who was one of the top freshmen in the nation. At one point he was leading all freshmen nationally in batting.
Serra’s baseball team is eyeing a state title, and with the coaching staff and players that they have, they will achieve their goal sooner than later.