Experience teaches returning players for new season

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With the baseball season starting at the South Coast Conference Tournament Thursday, Jan. 30, head coach Ken Gaylord and his players feel like they are really to start the season.

“I really feel good about my coaching staff. They challenge them and instruct them,” he said. “We still have a ways to go with that, but I think that we are ready mentally.”

Although the season starts out with many non-conference games, Gaylord knows the importance of starting the season strong.

“We play the non conference and with the RPI every game counts,” he said. They all count at the end, so hopefully we can show up and play well three times a week.”

Gaylord is pleased with the pitching and defense of his team, but knows the importance of the preseason because he doesn’t really know how good the team is until the team can get some game experience.

“The hitting part and the executing part is a work in progress,” he said. “The guys are working hard at it and they are starting to understand how important it is. Especially the offensive execution part.”

Cerritos College is coming off last season where they finished 6th in the South Coast Conference and missed the playoffs.

Right handed pitcher Jared Robinson thinks that last years team youth was the cause for some of it’s short coming.

“Last year we were all freshman and we didn’t really have any sophomores returning, so it was kind of tough for the freshman to compete against (players) that were older than us and bigger than us,” he said.

Robinson also said that he could improve as an individual but studying his opponents more often and making sure that he keeps cool on the mound when things don’t go his way.

With a little more than half the team as sophomores, third baseman Hayden Stevens feels that the team could really benefit from that experience.

“All of the starters were freshman last year, I think and this year we have a lot of sophomores. Hopefully we are more savvy.”

Cerritos College has also brought in two new coaches to the team. Benny Gonzalez, the new pitching coach and Hector Zamora, who works with the hitters.

Robinson feels like the new coaches have already made an impact and said, “Hector does a really good job with the hitters, making (sure) they are focus and staying on track. Gonzalez is our new pitching coach from Bell Gardens High School and has us working hard, under control on the mound.”

Stevens also feels that the team was able to get better players in the offseason as well and said, “We filled in a lot of spots that we were missing last year. Pitching was kind of shaky last year and now we have a lot of pitching this year. So hopefully it’s going to be a good season.”

Cerritos College starts off their regular season as they travel to Ventura for a 2 p.m. on February 4.