A word that all local high school baseball coaches used to describe this spring campaign – differently.
They did not even know if it would be a season because of COVID-19, which sabotaged last season after only a handful of competitions.
But the coaches realize that they are all working under the same handicap when it comes to preparing for the season, which will only consist of ten games in the Monticello Empire League, two against each opponent. There will be no playoffs.
The coaches and teams are still excited about the season, although it has meant making some adjustments. Here is a look at the three local troops:
The Bulldogs, who were section champions in 2018 for the second year in a row, have lost more than a dozen seniors to the exam. But they must still be considered the league favorite given their track record of replacing excellent players with more outstanding through the ranks.
“We only have six players coming back,” said head coach Stu Clary. “But it is not the case that the cupboard is bare. We are very happy for some of the younger guys we have seen. ”
Three returning seniors have already committed to playing college ball. First baseman / outfielder Brewster Mott plays for Air Force Academy. Griffin Harrison, a midfielder with the inner track on a card stop, is committed to Sacramento State. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Bender is on his way to the University of Washington.
The pitching looks strong. In addition to Bender, Southpaw Logan Piper, who also plays outfield, will be a key wheel.
“He is a very efficient pitcher and also swings the bat well and can get it in the field,” said Clary.
Clary is also excited about right-handed Colten Clarke.
“He strikes strikes, has a lot of movement and three lanes he can control in the zone,” said the coach. “We are very happy to see him get an extended look at the shock.”
Other pitchers in the mix are senior Gabriel McCoy and junior Aidan Russell. Mason Olney, a transfer from Wood, also features in Clary’s plans.
“He’s a very effective left-handed pitcher,” Clary said. “We remember in 2019 when he was a first-year student, he came out and showed very well to us.”
Senior Austin Menesini should see a lot of time behind the record. Sophomores Chance Golden, Finn Chapman and Andrew Lammon are also skilled backstops.
Menacini’s younger brother, sophomore JJ, is a solid midfielder. Junior Buckingham Charter transfer Caleb Morant has looked good in the field.
“We have some very nice jigsaw pieces. We do not know what the puzzle looks like yet, “said Clary. “Everything is weird. Our timelines are different. Usually we would already be playing, we would be in season right now. Everyone is dealing with a unique situation. Hopefully we can get a couple of games in, and everyone stays safe, and at the end of the day we get to play some baseball. ”
Will C. Wood
“It has definitely been different,” head coach Nick Voight said of this condensed spring season, one in which football and baseball are played competitively. “We usually do not get many boys out, so we really trust that athletes from football come out and play as well. Our numbers are pretty low right now, but we will make it. ”
One varsity player, senior outfielder Jason Davis, will play both football and baseball.
“The easy part from a coaching standpoint is to coordinate with the other coaches and make sure they know that at some point they will be at our practice and that at another time they will be at their practice,” Voight said. “The real leg work comes from the fact that the kid can do both. It will be a long day to go from baseball practice to football training. ”
Other returnees are four-year varsity second baseman Kobe Rolling, senior outfielders Darrel Reddick and James Reed, first baseman / pitcher Bryce Mendez-Dichoso, and pitcher / third baseman Blake Morin.
Voight is happy with the rotation, and notes that it helps that there are only two games per week this year compared to the regular three.
In addition to Morin and Mendez-Dichoso, seniors Reed and Daniel Navarro, junior Dayton Hicks and sophomores Kai Koizumi, Jarren Ford and Mason Sayre will work on the mound.
Sophomores Ian Morales and Jacob Milsaps fight for the catch.
“I think we’re going to have a well-rounded offense,” Voight said. “We will be able to connect in all facets of the game. If we need to play some ball, we can do it. But I think we will be able to hit pretty well too and move some guys around the bases. Defensively, I feel quite comfortable. This is probably one of the better defenses we’ve had for a while, so the Mugs will have a little more confidence into the season as well. ”
“It has been different,” echoed head coach Ryan Adams, now in his 14th year at the helm. “I still planned to have a season, as unlikely as it seemed. So when we got the green light, it felt like we were prepared and ready to rock and roll and take all the precautions we can. We prepared for it, and I think in the end we were the benefactors of doing it. ”
The Vikings struck a blow with the loss of all-league outfielder Daryl Dilworth and the first baseman / pitcher / outfielder Devin Paras to end the season.
“They were in the middle of our lineup,” Adams said. “But we have a lot of guys who come back and have experience from the university.”
The rotation is solid, with junior Isaac Zaldivar, who has already committed to playing college ball at St. Mary’s, senior right-hander Dylan Simmons and 6-foot, 7-inch sophomore DJ Anderson. Relievers include Tyler Bidou, Wes Smith and Jason Olsen.
Junior Devin Riley, a third-year college player, will patrol the midfield. Jake Tranchina and Cody Buckley are new on campus, but get some outings. Buckley is also a pitcher and catcher.
Remaining innings are third baseman Tyler James, Marcellus Cueva, who can play both second and shortstop, and Jack Brooks, the likely starter. The first base is an open competition between Aiden Moore, Smith, Anderson and Olsen.
When Zaldivar does not pitch, he will be the main catcher. When Zaldivar throws, Buckley will be behind the plate. Tranchina and Leonardo Delgado can also catch.
“I think if we were at full strength without injuries, it could possibly be one of the best teams from my time here at Vanden,” said Anderson. “But we have to do our best and go out and compete. We have good team speed. We do not have much power, but we have many complete hitters, so we will pull out all the tricks and make sure we can perform. ”
The MEL season starts on Tuesday 23 March. Vacaville is at Rodriguez, Wood is hosting the Armijo, and Water is at the Fairfield.