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Warriors welcome many new faces to baseball team

Warriors welcome many new faces to baseball team

The Cal State Stanislaus baseball team has started a competitive preseason, one that the Warriors hope will help them prepare for conference play and lead to a postseason appearance.


POSTED February 2, 2010 11:00 p.m.
The other day, Cal State Stanislaus baseball coach Kenny Leonesio scanned the 2010 team roster and read aloud the role sheet like an elementary school teacher on his first day of class. There were quite a few unfamiliar names, and not so many old ones.
“It feels like it’s my first year when everybody’s so new,” he said.
But, in fact, this is eighth season at the helm. That doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s pretty much starting brand new. He’s working with a group of Warriors that are welcoming 17 new players out of 30. It’s going to be a challenge, Leonesio said, but he’s not too concerned.
He believes the Warriors will be a tough team to overcome this season.
And he’s shaping them to become one of the best in the California Collegiate Athlete Association. Leonesio is determined to do so after the Warriors failed to reach the postseason for the second consecutive time, though in 2009, they once again surpassed the 30-win mark — the third time in four years — and earned a No. 1 ranking in Division II for the first time in school history.
In other words, a postseason appearance is very possible. The Warriors have a competitive preseason schedule, which started with an 11-7 loss on Monday to Fresno Pacific, ranked ninth in the NAIA. Stanislaus will host Academy of Art this weekend before making a trip to Florida Southern — the Moccasins have won nine national titles in D-II and are tabbed as the second-best team in the country — for four games starting on Feb. 11.
“As far as team chemistry, I think it’s very good,” Leonesio said. “In some respect, when you have a lot of new guys and they’re all learning and they’re all in kind of the same boat, I think it can be somewhat helpful at times. I think we set up our schedule to where we’re really going to come together for league.”
The CCAA is quite a challenge. The conference often boasts teams with national rankings. UC San Diego is picked to win the conference title after reaching the semifinals of the NCAA D-II Championships, and Sonoma State has a No. 3 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper top 30 poll.
“I think we’ll be all right,” pitcher Andrew Stueve said. “We’re a pretty tight-knit group.”
That chemistry will help. The Warriors welcome back just five position players and three pitchers that saw significant playing time last season, one that produced three MLB Amateur Draft picks — in outfielder Kyle Loretelli (San Diego Padres), Eric Federico (Colorado Rockies) and pitcher Dakota Watts (Minnesota Twins).
However, they welcome a lot of new talent along with returners such as Stueve, catcher Seth Hudson, pitcher Eric Cendejas, infielder Alex Zanini and outfielders Zack Cadet and David Contreras. Some of the key newcomers include outfielder Corey Conflenti (a junior college All-American from Diablo Valley College), pitcher Vinny Pacchetti (a former conference pitcher of the year from the College of Marin) and shortstop Kory Vitato (a league selection from Merced College).
It’ll be interesting to see if all the talent will result in postseason action.
“I think we’re going to get better as the year goes on,” said Leonesio. “We’re going to start to learn more about each other as a team. We’re excited but I think we’re going to be right there at the end.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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