Chico State baseball reflects on cancelled season

Jorge Perez (44) scores against Fresno Pacific University and fist bumps Turner Olson (35). Photo Courtesy of Chico State Sports Information.

About a month has passed since the Chico State baseball team heard the devastating news of their season ending due to the coronavirus. The team was on a bus ride to Los Angeles in the middle of March when they found out via social media that their season was over. 

The Wildcats were riding a 15-7 record, putting them in second place in the CCAA baseball rankings. They were playing some of their best baseball coming off back-to-back series wins. They swung the bat well, while the pitching staff kept opposing bats quiet.

During the bus ride down to LA, Jorge Perez, a senior from Artesia, was under the impression that they were going to play. He mentioned that there were several anxious moments while getting updates during the ride.

“I was in the state of disbelief during the ride,” Perez said. “I just couldn’t believe that our season was just going to end. All of our work and all the hard times that we underwent disappeared just like that.”

Back in late March, the NCAA’s Division II administration announced that spring sports athletes at the D2 level would get an extra year of eligibility if they were set to be seniors in 2020.   

Perez plans on using his next year of eligibility to finish up course work. Currently, Perez is using his time to hang out with family while under quarantine.

“I’ve used it (the time) to catch up with family members and play a lot of wiffle ball with the younger siblings,” Perez said. “I’ve been running with my dog, and doing some workouts. There is only so much we can do being stuck in the house.”

Adam Muñoz tracking the ball his hit ball against Fresno Pacific University. Photo Courtesy of Chico State Sports Information.

Adam Muñoz, a junior from Visalia, will remember the talent that this team had in the field and on the pitching mound. He mentioned that they loved to have fun and work through the grind.

“What I will remember about this team was we never gave up…all the game tying home runs, clutch hits, walks offs and pulling the rope,” Muñoz said. 

During quarantine, Muñoz has been putting in as much work as he can to stay active and fit.

“I have been working out at least five times a week, doing a lot of homework and binging a lot of Netflix shows (Ozark, Tiger King),” Muñoz said. “During training, I run about a mile and a half, do some agility work and end with abs or some yoga.”

JT Navarro getting ready to swing the bat against Fresno Pacific University. Photo courtesy of Chico State Sports Information.

JT Navarro, a senior and team captain, echoed Muñoz’s thoughts regarding the team’s potential.

“This team was so close, and [had] so much to compete with,” Navarro said. “I believe Coach T (Taylor) put together the perfect group of beautifully stubborn guys that wouldn’t quit and just wanted to win.”

Navarro mentioned that additions of Coach Lindsay and Coach Baleto were huge for the team and greatly influenced the success they saw. Coach Garcia stepped up and played a crucial role in the team’s dynamics as well.  

“Coach Garcia took on a bigger role and I believe deservingly so, he’ll be a head coach somewhere at some point,” Navarro said.

Unfortunately, Navarro dealt with a handful of injuries throughout his career and as a result does not think he will use the extra year of eligibility. After the season ended, Navarro’s thumb broke, an injury that had been bothering him since junior college. He has been recovering throughout the majority of this quarantine.

“I’ve been relaxing and putting on the quarantine 15,” Navarro said. 

While the baseball world is quiet now — nonetheless the whole world — people and players hope for a future season filled with similar triumphs. The team will have to wait another year for another shot at the NCAA playoffs.

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