Baseball Season Preview

High hopes for a strong 2020 start

Baseball+Season+Preview

Arrow Van Abrams

The Chico State baseball team looks to immediately bring out their ‘A’ game after a 2019 season filled with highs and lows.

The Wildcats began last season with a historically bad start. 

“Last year was a really different year than most,” head coach Dave Taylor said. “We started out 0-6 in conference, which has never been done in 25 years here. To overcome that and finish third, I was proud of them for hanging in there during those tough times. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start this year.”

Chico State is heading into the year with key veteran players. Seniors JT Navarro and Grant Larsen return to the diamond after their stellar 2019 seasons. 

The 6 foot 7 inch left handed pitcher, Larsen, racked in an All-California Collegiate Athletic Association Honorable Mention last season. Larsen also tied the team lead with 6 wins, and led the Wildcats in strikeouts and innings pitched. The strikeout artist spent the offseason polishing the pitches in his repertoire to show up his opposing batters.

“Last year, I added a new pitch,” Larsen said. “I added that cutter, so I’m just fine-tuning that.” 

On the offensive side of the field, Chico State welcomes back shortstop JT Navarro. Navarro is coming off a 2019 campaign where he hit .335, tallied an on-base percentage of .400 and went on a 14-game hitting streak. Additionally, his efforts last season earned him Second Team All-CCAA and All-West Region Honorable Mention. 

Navarro, along with teammates Skylar Limonchi and Vince Inman, are mourning the death of their former baseball coach at Orange Coast College, John Altobelli. Coach Altobelli, commonly referred to as Coach Alto, was among the nine passengers who died alongside Kobe Bryant in the tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas.

“Right now, I haven’t really fully processed what’s happened, but I’ll be wearing number 14 this year so I know he’ll be looking after me,” Navarro said. “That was Alto’s number.”

The team hopes to turn the distress and sorrow felt into drive and passion during games. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the team is ready to make the 2020 season one to remember.   

Chico State heads down to Southern California to open their season with a three-game series against Azusa Pacific on Friday, Jan. 31. The Wildcats will then host their 2020 home opener at Nettleton Stadium against Fresno Pacific on Friday, Feb. 7.

Arrow VanAbrams can be reached at [email protected] or @Arrow__3 on Twitter.