Denair native Bobby Swedberg was named the Hilmar High School varsity baseball head coach in the fall, taking over a team that battled with much controversy en route to a 7-5 Trans Valley League record in 2014, placing fifth for the year.
Luckily for Swedberg, who has years of experience coaching the Stanislaus Cardinals Babe Ruth 18-year-old team, he comes in with a valuable amount of experience in hopes to turn the program around.
“It's a great fit because I am from a small community,” Swedberg said. “I played and lived in a small community so I kinda know the atmosphere and know what it's about. I really like it.”
It won't be an easy task for a team that hasn't placed higher than third in league in over 10 years but Swedberg's enthusiasm looks to bring a spark of new life into the program.
“Our staff has a lot of experience within the high school game, whether its college level playing or coaching, we all coached high school one way or another,” said Swedberg. “The kids are energetic and upbeat, they are engaged and ready to learn and we have a conducive environment for them to get better each day and strive for their goals.”
Luckily for Swedberg what he did inherent is a roster filled with skill.
Led by one of the best pitchers, not just in the TVL but in the entire county, lefty Jacob Ahid returns for his senior season after going 7-4 with a 2.08 ERA last year, accumulating 76 strikeouts and allowing an opponent batting average of only .191.
Catcher Nick Orosco will take on the calling duties as a senior along with his peers in Ryan Silveira in the interior and the big swinger in Jarrod Willis.
“We have enough talent to compete and it's our job to get them ready,” said Swedberg. “The kids show up and work hard to get better each day and that makes it easier as their coach. We are also looking for our seniors to lead with their play.”
The 'Jackets will rely on sophomore Bobby Hughes to be the number two pitcher behind Ahid, along with a thin pitching rotation.
Looking stronger as a defensive unit, coach Swedberg's squad will look to play a mistake-free game and hit as efficiently as possible.
“We are pretty well rounded, we have several guys who can play different position out on the field,” Swedberg said. “A lot of guys can play all of the infield spots in any given day, the thing will be to rely on our number two pitcher and support him on those given days he must pitch cause we know what we will get with Ahid.”
Hilmar's next game will be at Ripon High at 4 p.m. Thursday.