As the season approaches, California Baptist University’s baseball team has been working to improve on last season as the team fell short of a conference title, falling to Holy Names University, knocking them out of contention to the title.
This season, the Lancers are projected to win the PacWest, producing the PacWest Player of the Year for the 2016 season. Already this season, the team has received PacWest honors.
Antonio Chavarria, senior undeclared major and infielder, and reigning PacWest Player of the Year, is projected to receive the honor once again and was named to the Preseason All-PacWest Team alongside Tyson Miller, junior communication studies major and right-handed pitcher, Mark Sanchez, junior business administration major and catcher, and Stephen Lohr, junior psychology major, catcher and third baseman.
Sanchez returns to the team this year after coming off of an injury last season, joining Andrew Montoya, senior criminal justice major and shortstop, who was also out last season. Gary Adcock, head coach of the baseball team, said having the pair back on the field is going to help the defensive end of the team tremendously.
“Last year, if you look at the stats we were the leading offense overall in the league and we led in pitching, but we were not anywhere close defensively,” Adcock said. “Bringing back Sanchez behind the plate and Montoya at short I think we’ve shortened that up there. When you have a catcher and shortstop that you can trust, defensively you sleep a little better because those guys handle the ball more than anybody.”
Adcock said he does not discredit the team’s work last season. Because of the injuries sustained, players were shifted into their secondary positions rather than primary.
“We haven’t really changed that cast of characters, we just put them back in their original spot,” Adcock said. “Last year, we had a lot of people shifted out of position so I think we’ll see a benefit out of that.”
Montoya and Sanchez both agree that being back on the field is a great opportunity.
“Being out last year took a lot out of me,” Montoya said. “I feel like I owe the team a lot this year from being out last season. It’s a great opportunity and I just want to grind and win.”
Sanchez said he is confident in his team and coaching staff and is ready to take on the competition.
“Being out last season was the hardest year of my life,” Sanchez said. “Being back is awesome and to be back with my teammates, I’m ready to compete.”
Miller said he expects the team to succeed this season.
“We want to win the PacWest and make it to the championships,” Miller said. “Our hitting has been really good and our pitching is looking good. I think we’ll have a good season.”
The team shares a goal of making it to the College World Series this season, but will take it one game at a time.
“I want to win every single game,” Sanchez said. “No team wants to lose; we’re going out there every game ready to compete.”
The season opened Feb. 4 at home against California State University, Los Angeles, as part of a three-game series that will conclude Feb. 6. The team will open up the next series at California State University, Dominguez Hills, Feb. 11, and will return home to finish the series Feb. 13 at CSUDH.