By Lauren Jennings |Sports Editor|
The Coyote baseball team, which got its start in 1987, is about to start its 31st season.
The team has had its ups and downs throughout the years, as all teams do, but this year’s team is ready to pick up from where they left off last year.
They ended last season by losing two games in the CCAA championships, so the team is looking for redemption and a shot at the CCAA title.
“I truly believe this team can make another appearance in the CCAA conference tournament,” said current head coach David Martinez.
“The top six teams out of 12 make it, so if our team keeps making the strides it is making, we have a chance,” added Martinez.
The first and only time the Coyotes won the CCAA title was in 2002 under head coach Don Parnell.
Parnell was with the team for an incredible 24 years after taking over for Chuck Deagle, the team’s very first coach.
In the 30 years of Coyote baseball there have only been three coaches, the current being Martinez. Martinez joined the team in 2015.
When the team was first introduced, they along with the rest of the school’s athletic teams, were Division III (D3).
During their time in D3, the team was coached by Deagle and had an overall record of 132 wins, 2 ties and just 47 losses. Deagle led the team to two D3 NCAA tournament appearances in his final two years
The school switched to Division II in 1992, which was when Parnell stepped in for Deagle. Parnell led the Coyotes to the CCAA tournament in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2012.
The chase for the next CCAA tournament appearance has already begun as the team played multiple exhibition games in the fall against Riverside Community College, Cal Baptist and Coyote baseball alumni.
“This fall, we all became very close and we know how good we can be,” said infielder Jordan Simon.
Keeping score wasn’t important for these games, but the team members learned a lot about themselves and the team.
“The future is bright with this team and I am excited to watch them compete everyday,” said former second baseman and new coach, Grant Buchanan.
“The young freshman and older, more mature seniors collaborate very well with one another,” continued Buchanan.
When the team wasn’t playing fall games, they were practicing and have been doing so ever since.
They practice several times a week, with only inclement weather keeping them from the diamond.
With so much practice, the team is bound to look good when they open the season in just a few days.
However, there is always room for improvement.
“I would really like to improve on our pitching,” said Martinez.
Individuals of the team can say the same as well.
“I really want to utilize my speed and play the game to my ability and not get ahead of myself,” said Simon.
The Coyotes will play nine of their first 13 games at Fiscalini Field in San Bernardino.
“The home schedule will benefit this year’s young club as it is a chance for them to get into a routine, know game day protocols and much more,” said Martinez.
The team has 50 games on its schedule, including 13 doubleheaders.
“I believe this team will outshine, out-compete, outplay and win a lot more games than the following season,” said Buchanan.
“I am really looking forward to what’s in store for this 2017 team,” concluded Buchanan.
The 2017 season begins on Feb. 3 with the Coyotes taking on Dixie State in four straight games.