Come next spring, the Turlock High School varsity baseball team will have a new head coach. Mike Souza will take over the program after previous head coach Sean Gilbert stepped down this summer.
“I’m just super excited for the opportunity,” Souza said. “Gilbert let me know the Saturday after the last home game of the season last year and I applied about a week later and got the job.”
Souza attended Turlock High as a student for a short period of time before transferring to Denair High. Since graduating, he has compiled over 20 years of coaching experience across multiple sports. Most recently, Souza served as the head coach for the Bulldogs varsity softball team. He also serves as an assistant on James Peterson’s varsity football coaching staff.
“The connection with the kids is what I love most and it’s probably what I’m most looking forward to,” Souza said. “I’ve watched some of the kids play last season and was impressed and I’ve had a chance to meet some of the guys who also play football.”
Souza believes that, although several power bats from last year’s lineup were lost due to graduation, his newly inherited program will still be a force to be reckoned with.
“We’re going to be a team that hits for average instead of power and we still have a great pitching staff,” he said. “I’m confident in our team and look forward to coaching these guys. And Gilbert told me when I got hired, if I ever need anything feel free to reach out.”
The two remain in touch as Gilbert is also an assistant coach for the varsity football squad. Gilbert served as the Turlock head coach since 2019, taking over for Mark de la Motte. During his tenure as head coach, the Bulldogs had a 59-21 record with two CCAL titles. Additionally, over a dozen of Gilbert’s players have played ball at the collegiate level and two have been drafted by Major League organizations.
He explained that the decision to step down was a difficult one, but he ultimately wanted to spend more time with his family.
“I’ve been coaching since 1995,” Gilbert said. “My oldest son is playing football at Modesto Junior College and my youngest is a senior. I don’t want to miss anymore of their stuff like Easters, deer hunting and all the stuff we try to do around baseball. It’s so tough. It’s year round when you’re the head guy.”
Souza has already begun working with his players as they maintained the baseball throughout the summer.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to lead these guys,” Souza said. “I can’t wait to get out and play because I love baseball so much.”