Newcomers revitalize Wildcat baseball

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Newcomers revitalize Wildcat baseball

Sophomore Cameron Santos concentrates on hitting the ball during a scrimmage on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

Sophomore Cameron Santos concentrates on hitting the ball during a scrimmage on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

Sophomore Cameron Santos concentrates on hitting the ball during a scrimmage on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

Sophomore Cameron Santos concentrates on hitting the ball during a scrimmage on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus


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With 26 new players and only nine returners, the Chico State baseball team is back in action. In the 2015 season, the Wildcats finished with an overall record of 18-25 and an unexpected winning percentage of .419. Between the returners using last season as fuel and the newcomers’ passion for the game, the team will try to cook up the recipe for a successful 2016 spring season.

Since most of the team is new, competition has been at an all-time high. Andy Burschinger, a returning senior pitcher, says the energy and intensity levels have increased significantly.

“Coach T [Taylor] did a great job recruiting high character guys with a competitive edge and all share the same goal, which is to succeed,” Burschinger said.

With the addition of so many new players, the program looks to grow as a result. Being a part of a team that relies on strong pitching and tenacious defense, each Wildcat is groomed to fit a strong mentality.

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Senior Torgen Soderlund winds up for the pitch during a scrimmage on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

 

Steven Baker, a junior transfer from College of Marin, shares his perspective as a pitcher. Baker says that Chico State baseball differs from any other previous program in structure and intensity level. He says he appreciates the camaraderie that has already been developed among his teammates.

“We’re all a team,” Baker said. “We practice that way, so we play that way.”

Practicing as a team rather than as individuals is an important aspect of Chico State baseball that will help mold them into a winning machine.

In order to build chemistry and competition among teammates, the coaches challenged the players with mentally and physically straining obstacles in their off-season practices. Having overcome these challenges, the team hit the ground running for preseason.

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Senior Cody Snider attempts to run home as Junior Marcos Valencia tags him out on Jan. 21. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

 

A new assistant coach to the program, John Carrion, says the newcomers are going to make a tremendous positive impact.

“The way [Chico State] has done it in the past has been very successful. This season is about guys coming from different places and meshing together as a team,” Carrion said.

Combining a large group of men from all over California adds variety to the program. Day in and day out, these baseball players work hard to earn their right to be out on the field representing the Wildcats.

Not only have these players united on the field, but they have quickly become a tight-knit group of friends. Clayton Gelfand, a returning junior infielder/pitcher, says he is especially proud of the team’s chemistry so early on.

“We’ve become a really close group of guys, everyone is friends,” Gelfand said. “You wouldn’t think we all just met months ago.”

Gelfand has firsthand experience with Chico State’s evolving team over the past few years and says that he cannot wait to start playing with this group of people.

“I think having a lot of new guys is beneficial,” Gelfand said. “It’s a new journey for most and the fact that they want to get better every day is evident.”

Anna Baytosh can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter @anna_baytosh.

 

 

 

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