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Big Joe: Quite a catch

Merced Volunteers coach Rollo Adams has seen some talented catchers come through his American Legion program.

Dusty Ryan and Jake Jefferies are at the top of the list.

Ryan is currently a phone call away from the big leagues at Triple-A Toledo.

Jefferies' professional career is off and running in the Tampa Bay minor league system following a stellar year at UC Davis.

This season, Joe Medeiros is making his way up the list.

The former Buhach Colony star and Central California Conference MVP comes into today's Northwest Regional Tournament in Bozeman, Mont., with a .485 average, 8 homers and 50 RBIs.

"He's one of the top catchers I've had in the 15 years I've been doing this," Adams said.

"I'd put him in the top five. He still has a lot to learn about calling a game. Once he gets to that point, he's going to be an all-around catcher.

"He can definitely hit the baseball. From that standpoint, he's ahead of Dusty and Jake with the bat and that's saying a lot."

Medeiros' eyes light up when he hears his name mentioned with Ryan and Jefferies.

"To see what those guys have done and for (Adams) to say that is huge," Medeiros said.

"That's a big confidence boost. If I can just do a little of what they both did, I'll be successful."

After the Vols' summer run is over, Medeiros will follow Jefferies path from Buhach Colony to UC Davis.

Medeiros earned his scholarship to Davis by impressing Aggies coach Rex Peters.

Peters saw Medeiros play twice and both times he hit home runs.

"I've talked about that with my parents a lot," Medeiros said. "The only two times he saw me, I hit home runs.

"I don't know if it was luck or performing under pressure."

Medeiros has performed well all summer.

Medeiros' strong arm and receiving skills behind the plate make him a force on defense as well.

He picked off two runners on second base during the state tournament.

Medeiros tops the Vols in just about every offensive category, including his 19 doubles.

"He's been our leader," Adams said. "We've counted on him to get the big hits through the summer and he's delivered.

"He's enjoyed hitting in that No. 2 hole. He gets to see a lot more fastballs."

With school not in session at Davis until Sept. 24, Medeiros has plenty of time to keep playing baseball for the Volunteers (24-13).

Merced opens the eight-team tournament today against Medford, Ore. at 9 a.m.

The tournament champion advances to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C. Aug. 22-26.

"I think with our offense and pitching staff, winning four or five games to get to North Carolina shouldn't be hard," Medeiros said.

"That's why everyone is excited. We know we can do it."

Medeiros could be the first catcher to lead the Vols to a Word Series appearance.

Now that's starting a "list" of your very own.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

Northwest

Regional

WHERE: Heroes Park in Bozeman, Mont.

WHO: Merced Volunteers (24-13) vs Medford, Ore. Mustangs (44-8), 9 a.m.; Boise, Idaho vs Richland, Wash., noon; Billings, Mont. vs Gillette, Wyo., 3 p.m.; Chugiak, Alaska vs Bozeman, Mont., 4 p.m.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: A trip to the World Series in Shelby, N.C. Aug. 22-26.

NOTES: The Vols will send Stanford-bound left-hander Brett Mooneyham to the mound against the Medford Mustangs. ... The Oregon State champs will counter with left-hander Jordan Lewis, who is 13-0 this summer. ... The Mustangs have won two straight state titles and 11 overall. Medford is trying to get back to the World Series for the first time since 2002. Merced has never reached the World Series. ... Offensively, Medford is led by first baseman Logan Odom. The 6-foot-7 hitter went 13 for 19 with eight RBIs to earn MVP honors during the Oregon state tournament last week.

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