Delhi and Denair High baseball programs have begun their 2015 regular season on the diamond and with aspirations of competing for a Southern Athletic League title. Achieving those champion dreams will be a tough road ahead for both teams as they are coming off losing seasons.
For over a decade the Delhi Hawks have not been able to win more than six games in a season and last year was a repeat of the pattern, with the team amassing only four victories.
The Coyotes of Denair come off a 3-13 season where major problems caused havoc for a growing team.
Denair returns this season with a new head coach, former Coyote baseball player Shawn Stuart.
“We are still finding ourselves and figuring out our identity,” Stuart said. “I did always see myself coaching back here at home; they gave me my opportunity.”
Stuart played for Merced College then transferred to Long Beach State to play Division I collegiate ball before putting in some time in the minors for the Colorado Rockies.
With all his knowledge gained over the years, Stuart has been given an opportunity to share these experiences and techniques with young men to help them grow into the ball players they strive to become.
“They haven't really seen a lot of things that myself and my assistant are bringing to the table,” Stuart said. “Not just knowing what a good swing looks like but having an approach to certain things, situation baseball because now kids will start to think about it and we won’t just say go out and play ball we will preach doing the little things right.”
Anthony Fuller and Ryan Smith will do most of the work from the mound while the team’s youth will be shown as they have four sophomores and a freshman.
“Our job is to clean it up defensively by implementing fundamentals and taking care of simple ball stuff,” Stuart added.
Delhi is off to an uneasy start to the new year, after dropping two straight to Turlock Christian and getting outscored 28-2 in the process.
Offense was one of the areas where last year’s team really struggled to get going and so far there's been no improvement.
However, the team is still looking tough and keen on getting the wheels going again.
“We have a group of kids that put a lot of effort during the whole year, kids that if they’re not playing another sport would like to be out here and maybe in years past we haven't had that,” Delhi head coach Scott Bittner said. “It’s a commitment from the players.”
Sergio Hernandez, Juan Pulido and Macario Aguilar have been with Bittner for the past three years and are the senior leaders on the team.
Newcomer Arturo Martinez will expect to see extensive playing time while getting better each game, Bittner said.
Denair will host Amador at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, while Delhi will travel to play at Big Valley Christian at 11 a.m. today.