Last year, the varsity baseball team had an impressive debut season in the Capital Valley Conference, not only winning league outright but also winning the California Interscholastic Federation’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship.
This year, the team will try to repeat the success they had last year despite losing seniors who were key components to the team. Coach Lance Fisher thinks that the loss of seniors will definitely have an effect on the team’s performance this year.
“I think, for anybody, if you lose all-league guys and the MVP of the league it’s going to have an effect,” Fisher said. “The guys we lost all had really good years last year and they really helped us.”
However, Fisher does not think that this year’s team will lack any leadership or talent, even after losing crucial personnel from last year.
“The returning guys we have were in the loop last year and have had the mentality of winning ever since they got here. Some of the juniors we are getting back had really good seasons,” Fisher said. “Some of them got honorable mentions in league last year, so we are getting some really good players. They all were leaders last year and we should be fine if they continue to be leaders.”
Returning varsity outfielder and 2015 CVC honorable mention recipient senior Ryan Sleadd agrees with Fisher that the players lost from year will hurt the team but still feels confident in the team’s ability to achieve the title of CVC champions again.
“We lost a bunch of really good pitchers from last year’s team who really helped us,” Sleadd said. “I think this team still has the potential to be a really good team.”
Fellow senior and second-year varsity player Jordan Woods has very high expectations for this season as well.
“My expectation for this team is to get another ring,” Woods said. “Another championship should always be the goal and I think we can achieve that.”
Both players played important roles as juniors last year and now both have taken it upon themselves to be leaders this year.
“We are seniors this year and we need to be leaders on this team and be role models,” Sleadd said. “We have to show all of the younger kids what to do.”
“My thing has always been lead by example,” Woods said. “If we play hard then hopefully that rubs off on everybody.”
With only seven seniors on the roster this year, the transition that the current first-year varsity players made from the JV team to varsity is going to be very important this season.
Junior catcher Ben Welker thinks that the group has made the move up nicely.
“I think we all have done a good job transitioning from last year to this year,” Welker said. “We are still getting used to the speed difference but for the most part we have done a good job.”
Welker thinks that the practice regime the team goes through has really helped the juniors get more prepared for their first year on varsity.
“We practice a lot during fourth period and sometimes we get to practice for three hours,” Welker said. “We get a lot done and we have less people on the team than we did freshman and JV year so we get way more reps then we used to.”
Junior outfielder Nick Tucker agrees with Welker that the juniors have done a good job transitioning and that the speed of the game is the biggest difference between this year and last.
“I think all of us are doing really good,” Tucker said. “As the season goes on we will get a better representation of how we are doing, but at varsity the pitchers throw a little harder, the ball is hit a little harder and the runners are a little bit faster.”
Fischer has seen continuous improvement from the boys so far this year and has high hopes for the season.
“From scrimmage week 1 to scrimmage week 2 we got a lot better,” Fisher said. “If we continue to get better each week we should have a really good year.”