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LAST TIME TO SHINE SHORTSTOP WILL END PREP CAREER REPRESENTING HART IN ALL-STAR GAME.



Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

NEWHALL - As a participant in the 27th annual Bernie Milligan Daily News All-Star Game An all-star game is an exhibition game played by the best players in their sports league. The players are often chosen by a popular vote of fans of the sport and the game often occurs at the halfway point of the regular season, although this is not the case for some all-star games , Hart High's Chris Valaika continues to establish himself as one of the region's best baseball players.

But Valaika is more than that. He's among the best teenage players in the nation, proven by the fact he leaves Monday for Joplin, Mo., to participate on USA Baseball's 18-under national team.

So Valaika figures to be among the marquee attractions for Saturday's 1:30 p.m. game at Birmingham High in Lake Balboa Balboa, town (1990 pop. 2,751), Colón prov., in the former Panama Canal Zone, on the Gulf of Panama. The port for Panama City, Balboa was the administrative headquarters of the Panama Canal Zone. It was also the site of a U.S. navy base (closed 1999). . He'll probably start at shortstop for the East team, and he's got an excellent chance to win the pregame home run contest considering he's Hart's career leader with 18, including 10 this season.

He's been an all-star since T-ball, and by now Valaika's talent has been showcased across North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere.  - through the years he's played in Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, New York Texas is a hamlet in Oswego County, New York, USA, near the southeastern corner of Lake Ontario. It is officially part of the town of Mexico. Geography
Texas lies on Little Salmon Creek, about one-half mile above the mouth of that stream on Lake Ontario, on an east-west
, Florida, even Mexico - but Saturday's event will be special for him. The Milligan fest is Valaika's last chance to represent his school and community, an obligation he takes seriously.

``It's going to be a lot of fun and a good chance to show what we can do,'' Valaika said. ``We had kind of a tough year this season, and things didn't always go my way. I've learned to battle adversity, and this gives me one more chance.''

Hart teammates Ian Feldman, Kyle Boggio and Danny Williams Danny Williams may refer to:
  • Danny Williams (politician) (born 1949), current Premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Danny Williams (boxer) (born 1973), British heavyweight professional boxer best-known for his 2004 knockout of Mike Tyson
 are participating, along with Saugus players Mike Scripture and Adam Tripp.

Valaika tied Hart's career home run record in the team's final game - a 14-10 playoff loss to Santiago of Corona Corona, city, United States
Corona (kərō`nə), city (1990 pop. 76,095), Riverside co., S Calif.; inc. 1896. The city developed as a primary citrus fruit producer and shipping center. There is also light manufacturing.
 - but it was not a typically dominant year for either Valaika or the team. He injured in·jure  
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.

2. To cause damage to; impair.

3.
 his hand midway through the season and suffered through a power slump during which he hit one home run in 17 games, finishing with a .426 average, 10 home runs (four over the final six games) and 26 RBI RBI
abbr. Baseball
runs batted in

Noun 1. rbi - a run that is the result of the batter's performance; "he had more than 100 rbi last season"
run batted in
 in 94 at-bats, as Hart finished just 15-13.

Had Valaika been fully healthy, he probably would have batted better than .500 and hit 15 home runs, considering he entered his senior season with a .411 average and a seven-homer junior season.

``After I got hurt, I couldn't squeeze the bat, so I had to go to physical therapy. Then things kind of snowballed,'' he said. ``My hand is getting better but it still hurts.''

Hart coach Jim Ozella said he admired Valaika for persevering per·se·vere  
intr.v. per·se·vered, per·se·ver·ing, per·se·veres
To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.
 through a painful injury that would have sidelined a lot of other players, some perhaps for the rest of the season.

``I think it says something about his character that he was willing to play with that injury,'' Ozella said. ``He never whined about it. He just kept on busting his rear end. He kept hitting, and he kept making the plays. He's had an outstanding career for us.''

His teammate Williams calls Valaika ``a total team player.''

``Chris had a great year by tying the home run record. He worked hard and he's a great player,'' Williams said. ``Plus Chris kind of took our younger players like (second baseman second baseman
n. Baseball
The infielder who is positioned near and to the first-base side of second base.

Noun 1. second baseman - (baseball) the person who plays second base
second sacker
) Shane Carlson under his wing.''

Added Feldman: ``Chris Valaika was the No. 1 guy on our team. Everyone, including all the seniors, looked up to him. He was the one we all turned to for leadership. He's an incredible leader.''

Valaika was a bit disappointed he wasn't picked in the recent major- league draft. Nevertheless, he's more than happy to fulfill his commitment to UC Santa Barbara Santa Barbara (săn'tə bär`brə, –bərə), city (1990 pop. 85,571), seat of Santa Barbara co., S Calif., on the Pacific Ocean; inc. 1850.  on a full scholarship.

``I would have liked to hear my name called, but I've got a (Division I) scholarship for four years. I wouldn't have turned that down anyway had I been a low pick,'' he said. ``Thinking about it, college is my best bet because I'll have something to fall back on.''

AT A GLANCE

What: 27th annual Bernie Milligan Daily News All-Star Game

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Where: Birmingham High in Lake Balboa

Locals: Kyle Boggio, Hart; Ian Feldman, Hart; Mike Scripture, Saugus; Adam Tripp, Saugus; Chris Valaika, Hart; Danny Williams, Hart.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

Considering it was not a typically dominant season for either Chris Valaika or the Hart High team, Valaika is looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 a better ending in the Bernie Milligan Daily News All-Star Game.

David Crane/Staff Photographer

Box:

AT A GLANCE (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 11, 2003
Words:728
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