Turlock Christian High's varsity baseball team looks to be on the verge of a turnaround after bringing in an abundance of fresh talent to this year's squad to compliment one of the most talented teams that TC has seen in over half a decade.
The Eagles will also welcome new head coach in Ceres native James Burbank.
“I coached JV last year for TC and they asked if I was willing to step up and coach varsity and I have coached varsity before in different states,” said Burbank. “About 20 plus years in military so I moved around a lot so I jumped at the opportunity. I love working with the young athletes and teach them what I know about the game.”
Competing in the Central California Athletic Alliance was not so easy for the Eagles a year ago, who amassed a record of 4-10 in league, third to last, with five teams ahead.
Through the good and bad there have been multiple players to provide sparks for the Eagles and some of those returning are the pitching senior tandem of Coleman Kirkendall and Soren Jerner.
“It’s been a rough couple of years and you look at the talent, it was disappointing but many say last year’s team was more talented but I can argue that,” said Burbank. “Because this team we have so much talent, the program no matter who is here in three years, will be set for success.”
Look for sophomore Jakob Skinner and one of three freshmen to pitch for a team that accumulated a team ERA of 4.30 last year. Offensively the team hit .316.
It’s been a rough patch since 2011, as the Eagles have gone 25-75-1 and failed to bring in the level of talent needed — until now.
Brynn David, Micah Blomenkamp and Liam Jones will provide the Eagles with arguably the best new trio in league.
“I love every minute. That is the beauty of these freshmen is that I can put them anywhere and they will excel,” said Burbank. “We might be one of the few, if any, of the teams who will be starting three freshmen when we start, but I have just as much confidence in my freshmen as I have my seniors.”
As a strategic approach to the game, Burbank brings forth the experience from a different perspective and will heavily rely on the defense and pitching to help win games.
“From going off the stats on Maxpreps and talking to some of these kids, I am a small ball coach,” said Burbank. “I am happy with a 1-nothing win and that starts with pitching and defense and that is what we do.
“I learned from Art McCray, who was my coach, so it never hurts to be coached by a legend either,” he added. “I am okay with winning 20 something to nothing but I am just as happy winning 1-0 and looking at last year’s scores, their offense could bang but the defense would let kids pass them by.”
The Eagles will begin league play against Stone Ridge Christian at home at Pedretti Park at 4 p.m. March 15.
“Our team goal is to represent our school and compete in every game and just carry ourselves with pride, dignity and to work towards progressing,” Burbank added. “If I did my job right I will have made an impact on these young kids and helping make them better overall.”