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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Revamped Chico State baseball squad off to undefeated start

The new Wildcats team features 31 new players, both freshmen and transfer students
Chico+State+baseball+celebrates+a+hard-fought+win+over+Montana+State+Billings.+Taken+by+Lukas+Mann+on+Feb.+8.
Lukas Mann
Chico State baseball celebrates a hard-fought win over Montana State Billings. Taken by Lukas Mann on Feb. 8.

Following a tough losing season in 2023, the Chico State baseball team looks to make waves this season, coming out with a 5-0 start in non-conference play. 

After last season, head coach Dave Taylor, in his 18th year as the Wildcat’s head coach, felt that the team had to switch things up for the upcoming season.

“There’s a certain standard here that has really been sustainable for a long period of time,” Taylor said, “We kind of had to reload.”

The new Wildcats team features 31 new players, both freshmen and transfer students. 

Revamping the roster wasn’t the only change. Taylor said there also needed to be a change in the team’s culture, putting a heavy emphasis on toughness, execution and attention to detail.

“Not necessarily having to be better baseball players than our opponents, but playing the game better,” he said.

Senior pitcher Kevin Lyons, who is off to a hot start with a 2.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts in two appearances, said the incoming players are just as serious about the culture change as everyone else. He added that the newcomers also stepped into leadership roles along with the returners, and feels that the team has fit in very well together so far.

“It’s the most enjoyable team I’ve been around in a while,” Lyons said.

Junior catcher and pitcher Jeremy Keller reinforced the team’s emphasis on toughness over the offseason, adding that the team bought into a “two-strike approach,” meaning that they worked on getting close to the plate during at-bats and not being scared of being hit by the ball.

“If you can out-tough the opponent, then you’ve got them beat in that game and if you can physically beat them, then you’ve got them beat,” Keller said. 

Keller already made a difference this season, with a .429 batting average, as well as an inning pitched against Simpson University, recording one strikeout and giving up no runs.

After a long but successful offseason, the Wildcats have started strong, securing a sweep against Montana State Billings, and dominating Simpson in a doubleheader. The squad is firing on all cylinders, with a team ERA of 2.63 and a team batting average of .333.

Seniors, like Lyons and pitcher Marco Ibarra, hope to sunset their Chico State baseball career with a winning season. Ibarra said he is confident that the team could make a deep run in the playoffs come May.

“I don’t have too many more shots at this,” Ibarra said. “This is it.”

The Wildcats are looking ahead to the start of conference play. They kick off with a four-game series against a formidable Cal Poly Pomona squad, who recently ranked no. 24 in the NCBWA national poll. The first game is Friday at 6 p.m. at Scolinos Field in Pomona.

For information about all Chico State Athletics, visit the Wildcat homepage.

Nathan Chiochios can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Nathan Chiochios, Sports Editor
Nathan Chiochios is in his third year at Chico State as a journalism (news) major. He is from Mountain View, a town in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is his second semester on The Orion, and his first semester as sports editor, and he looks forward to growing his journalism and writing skills. In his free time, he spends most of his time skateboarding and hanging out with friends and family.
Lukas Mann, Reporter
Lukas Mann is a journalism major with a minor in broadcasting. He is currently enrolled in his third-year at Chico State. Lukas has had a keen interest in sports for the majority of his life and is looking forward to integrating that passion into his work and effort for The Orion. After graduation, he hopes to be a writer for any professional sports teams having to do with the big four sports.

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