Wildcat baseball finds success with transfer students

For junior college athletes looking to take their talents to the next level, earning a spot on a university roster requires hard work and immense dedication.

The Chico State baseball team is filled with transfer students looking to make an impact on a new team. Out of the 39-man roster, 26 of the players started their collegiate baseball career at a junior college then earned themselves a roster spot here at Chico State.

“This program has typically been junior college oriented,” head coach Dave Taylor said. “The JC guys have been battle tested, so they know what to expect when they get to this level. We usually take more transfer students over freshmen because the freshmen are not quite tested yet.”

Cody Wissler, Braeden Gowdy and Eddie Zavala all started at a junior college and are now demonstrating their skills on the Chico State baseball team.

“It makes the team better comrodiarity-wise because we all came from the same place and have been through the same process. I think it really helped the team mesh this year,” Gowdy, a junior from Cuesta College, said. 

Gowdy earned himself a spot as a right-handed pitcher in the starting rotation this year and has been keeping opponents’ bats silent so far. He has pitched 23 overall innings only allowing 22 hits, 15 runs and a whopping 21 strikeouts.

Gowdy speaks highly of being a transfer student-athlete and what the transfer process entails.

“I already got part of school out of the way, I know what the process is, and I have been warmed up to it. The worst part is I wasn’t here all along,” Gowdy said with a laugh.

Gowdy received no offers coming out of high school and went straight to Cuesta College. During his time at Cuesta, he greatly developed as a ball-player and fine-tuned his pitching tools. He has now been named Wildcat of the Week and is an active part of a winning team.

Zavala, a senior from Los Angeles Harbor College, acknowledged how much of a grind junior college was. The athletes were all about hard work.

“The process of coming up to Chico was just taking it day by day,” Zavala said. “Working on the field on your own and just grinding really. The best part is owning up to the fact that you are a juco (junior college) product.”

 Zavala, who has been named CCAA player of the week, crushed the ball during his senior year campaign with 29 hits. He also drove in 16 runs and blasted two home runs. However, Zavala had to adjust to the major change in play from the junior college level to the university level.

“The biggest difference is the velocity of the ball and the IQ of the players. Everyone is good at this level,” Zavala said.

Wissler, a senior from El Camino College, had no plans to continue playing baseball after high school. After having a conversation with the coach at El Camino, however,  he decided to stick with the sport a little longer.

“I got an opportunity to keep playing and I took advantage of it,” Wissler said. “That is the whole thing about juco. We are waiting for opportunities and when one comes we have to be ready for it.”

Wissler collected 11 hits this year and eight total RBIs. His most impressive appearance came on Feb. 8 when he had four RBIs in one game. While his performance may not show it, the process of moving up to Chico State was quite nerve racking for him.

“The first day I met all of these guys, we were all on the same boat,” Wissler said. “We were all JC guys – all first time away from home. So, that made it a lot easier for us to connect more.”

Wissler has stepped onto this team with passion. He seized the opportunity he was given to come on board the Chico State baseball team, and it reflects onto his play.  

“This team is really good at bonding. We are all juco guys, so that makes it really special,” Wissler said. 

Matthew Wreden can be reached at [email protected] or @MattWreden70 on Twitter.