Truitt Robinson
ASU Student Journalist

North baseball focusing on 'rebuilding' for 2024

March 12, 2024 by Truitt Robinson, Arizona State University

North baseball home opener vs Raymond S. Kellis. (Truitt Robinson/AZPreps365)

Truitt Robinson is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover North High School for 

“Growing” and “rebuilding” are the two words people will hear when looking at North Mustangs baseball for the upcoming season, as many of the players this year are underclassmen.

The Mustangs have been improving over the last couple seasons, finishing 10-11 in the 2022 season and improving to 12-5  in 2023. The Mustangs finished second in the 6A Metro region last season behind only the Alhambra Lions.

The Mustangs had a seven-game win streak towards the back end of the season, but lost the final two games of the season to Alhambra.

There were several standout seniors that played for North last season, including senior Angel Valenzuela, who was second team all conference a year ago.

The seniors on last year's squad graduated and now North is looking to rebuild with help of its newcomers, who look to grow and learn in the game of baseball at the next level. 

The Mustangs had a rough start to the 2024 season, as they lost to the Raymond S. Kellis Cougars at home 22-3 in the home opener. There will inevitably be growing pains for the younger players.

Despite having a young team, players and coaches alike still have lots of hope and believe the younger players can and will grow and become more experienced.

“We’re young, we’re growing, going to make mistakes as a young ball club, but we’ll get there,” said coach Allen Liebau. 

Liebau added that he believes that in sports, all you can do is “get better every day,” regardless of who the players are.

He said a major part that they need to focus on for this year is to focus on “baseball IQ."

Two seniors on the 2024 team, Avery Muraoka and Israel Hernandez, gave their thoughts on the game and how they plan on helping out the younger faces of the team. 

“I plan on trying to be a good role model,” Muraoka said, “Take initiative, be the team captain, try to help them out whenever I can, give them tips on how to be better, how to improve because it's a long season, so there’s always room for improvement.”

“Exactly what he said," Hernandez echoed. "I just give them tips on what I can and what I know and let them know to just keep their head up and its hard to be good in this game. A lot of these guys are young, so they’ll get better.”

Muraoka says a strength is when the team “puts the ball in play, good things do happen,” and a weakness is “pitching,” but with coach Liebau, pitches will get “more accurate.”

A strength of this year's team will be the “amount of room we have to learn,” said Hernandez, noting that many of the young players have time to get better. He points what he calls “raw talent" on the roster.