In his second season as head coach, Erik Martinez led the Turlock Christian High varsity baseball to a struggling 5-18 record, but this season he comes in with a new light and is sure to say that there is an upside to this team.
Eagerly awaiting the start of the new season the Eagles are ready to show everybody, including their opponents in the Central California Athletic Alliance, just how competitive the new looking Eagles can be.
“We are more aggressive than we were last year,” said Martinez. “Last year I had a lot of guys who gave up on pitches or if we got down early they put their heads down, but this team is a lot more aggressive on the plate and we communicate on defense. We are going to win a lot of games this year.”
The Eagles are already off to a better start than last year after going 2-0 in their first two games and have scored 10 or more runs in both games, tallying 28 combined.
Not only has the offense already lifted the team’s morale in the early stages of the year but the pitching is looking almost just as good.
Led by the one-two punch of Drake Dutra and Coleman Kirkendall, the Eagles strength and route to success will rely heavily on the top two pitchers on the squad.
“My pitching staff is looking strong with my one, two guys and Soren Jerner and Jacob Skinner can come in and get the job done for us,” Martinez said about his other two pitchers.
In the first game of the season, senior and ace pitcher, Dutra, tossed the impeccable perfect game, striking out 15 against Delhi this past Tuesday.
“My leadership from our seniors and returners has been great especially with Drake and his perfect game early on,” said Martinez. “After winning only five games all last year these kids are not satisfied, they feel hungry this year and the attitude is so much better from last year.”
After starting 0-2 last year the Eagles struggled to maintain consistency at every position and would regularly let a small slip turn completely overboard and into a disastrous inning but luckily in the offseason something just clicked.
Top junior returners consist of Jared Zuniga and Dominique Zendejas among only two seniors on the current roster, as the Eagles are heavy with underclassmen, including five freshmen and one sophomore.
It should be an interesting year for the Eagles, in their first year competing in the CCAA, but one thing is for sure — these student-athletes have set a goal.
“Our ultimate goal is to make playoffs, but as a team these guys have set a goal to win league and that’s the goal were striving for, to win the CCAA,” Martinez added.
TC will begin CCAA play against Brookside Christian at 4 p.m. Tuesday.