The spring of 2017 will live on forever in Stanislaus State baseball history.
After the Warrior Baseball team left the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship tournament last week on the losing side, many seniors still reflected on their success and managed to hold their heads high and proud for accomplishing something that hadn't been done in nearly a decade.
Former Turlock High pitcher Nick Voumard, along with a strong pitching staff, were big contributors to a record season, with the Warriors making their first CCAA Championship tournament appearance since 2008.
The Warriors finished with an overall record of 34-18, second in the CCAA North Division. It was Stanislaus’ second most wins since 2008, when they tallied 37 victories and earned the most wins in a season in the program’s history.
“I think leaving Stanislaus this year, all the older guys left the program in a great place,” said Voumard. “Some of the older guys got to go to the playoffs for the first time, and some of the younger guys got to see what It's like to make it, and what you need to do in order to make it to the playoffs.”
“Knowing that we made history is awesome, especially for all of the seniors,” said Nick Ippolito. “It was our last year to make a mark and we all kind of had a chip on our shoulders to finish this season strong. We wanted to make the program a winning program again and to be the ones to do it.”
Before this year, Stanislaus baseball had gone through some rough times — four losing seasons since that '08 season.
With a combination of young players and strong senior leadership, the 2017 Warriors squad flourished, especially on the pitching side, forcing teams to strictly pick pitches to try and hit.
Voumard, along with Gibson Russ of Central Oklahoma, tied for first with the most saves in D-II baseball with 15 apiece. Voumard, however, did this in only 21 appearances while Russ made 29 appearances to earn that many saves.
The Warriors were also among the best when it came to pitching rotation. Voumard (2.22 ERA) was one of four who had an ERA under 2.92.
“I am glad I got to finish my senior year on a high note because of the previous seasons I had been part of,” said Voumard. “My first couple years were pretty rough, so it was awesome getting to have a winning season and play in the playoffs.”
From 2013-2016 the Warriors won no more than 25 games in a season and had three losing seasons during that span.
“I think this year in particular we had a great group of guys,” said Voumard. “We had great team chemistry and a mix of older guys with some experience and leadership as well as young guys who were all willing to learn and get better every day to help the team in any way needed.”
There was a total of 15 seniors on the squad.
Stanislaus also topped all teams in the CCAA with an ERA of 3.25. Second best was Chico State at 3.58.
“Overall, this season was awesome. I had a ton of fun. It's always fun to prove people wrong and we did just that,” said Voumard. “We were picked to finish last and to end up in second place at the end of the year was an amazing feeling and accomplishment. We had a great effort from guys all year long.”
Voumard was also one of three Turlock natives, with former Bulldog Tyler Murphy and former Pitman Pride standout Adam Nascimento.
In 37 games played and 25 starts, Nascimento batted .244 while Murphy, who had an impressive injury comeback story, went 3-2 in 40 and 1/3 innings pitched while allowing batters to hit just .247 off him.
The Warriors had a fielding percentage of .967 for the year, while opponents finished with a fielding percentage of .953.
Stanislaus also had no other batter hitting higher than .295 (Kyle Nixon).
“The preseason rankings had us tied for last with San Francisco State,” said Ippolito. “We kind of took that personally and we all wanted to prove them wrong for ranking us that low. I think we all knew we had a special team. I think we all knew that we had talent and that we can beat anyone.”
Voumard was the first Warrior to be named an All-American since Eli Davis. Davis was an ABCA first-team and CoSIDA/Daktronics second-team selection in 2012.
“I always expect myself to do well and I hold myself to a high standard but I didn't expect the results I got this year,” said Voumard.