Denair and Delhi High have never really established dominant baseball programs in the past, but after a few changes in the offseason things might finally be looking up.
“We've got a couple more former players helping out this year,” said Stuart. “I think this year we are looking to be more consistent. They learned a lot of new things last year so it's fresh for them so it will be the second time we go through it, should be a better year for sure.”
Denair will boast a roster that includes Anthony Fuller, Vinny Citty and catcher Brendan Curnow, all of whom should be consistent players for the Coyotes.
“We just want to be competitive,” said Stuart. “We won’t worry about other teams and records, we just want to compete with ourselves and competition is tight right now so we'll see how the guys will earn it.”
Denair was able to finish off last year strong, winning back-to-back contests over a winless Delhi team from a year ago.
To help turn things around, Delhi, which was 0-18 last season, welcomes new head coach Kevin Ross who brings with him a collegiate level understanding of baseball.
“I knew that it was the right step for me since it's a smaller program, school and league. It was a perfect avenue to get my feet wet as a head coaching role,” said Ross, who was previously at Merced College as an assistant coach. “I love the students here so I had no doubt I would love the players.”
Ross welcomes freshman Marty Hernandez, who has already showed sparks on the field, providing a small program with a solid arm and a defensive standout at shortstop as well as pitching.
To assist Hernandez will be Gustavo Martinez and Danny Saucedo, who have already shown coach Ross that they are willing to go the extra mile.
“The main thing is to respect the game, respect your opponent, respect the officials and respect yourselves,” said Ross.
Ross also expressed the significance of the school and how the game transitions into life events.
“I told the kids it is not about the trophies or championships,” said Ross. “I can go buy a big nice trophy and write champions on it but it won't mean anything if we didn't do anything for it because we are the same guys but at the end of the season. A hard fought, tooth and nail fourth place finish where we gave it all we have, that is worth more than any big medal and so what I try to get across is that effort is key.”
It will take a great deal of effort from every player if Delhi hopes to achieve a level they have yet to reach, considering the SAL is an underrated challenge in baseball.
“I see that the kids are really working to improve,” said Ross. “I think our guys will give everything they have and we will shock some people and it will be a bit unorthodox, but we will play good baseball, small ball and manufacture runs.”
Delhi's next game will be against Stone Ridge Christian at 4 p.m. Monday.
The next game for Denair will be at Bret Harte at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.