Due to a lack of varsity play from many of the up and coming players, Turlock baseball head coach Mark de la Motte is now boasting probably his most inexperienced team to-date, but it might not all be bad, considering they compete in an always interesting Central California Conference and return a few of the area’s top hitters.
League play won't start till April, so de la Motte's Bulldogs have some time to get into a rhythm but it will have to happen sooner than later if they wish to be competitive and continue the success that the program has sustained.
“I think we are missing a little experience and we are not as deep on the mound right now, so we are trying to develop some guys,” said de la Motte. “It’s just our pitching and defense that we need to work on. We can hit a little bit but we have to pitch well and play great defense.”
Last year the team went 18-10 overall and made a playoff run in the second round of the Division I tournament before losing to St. Mary's once again. That team boasted seven seniors who were big contributors to an 11-4, second place CCC team.
“With last year’s season, we really competed and as we got to league, we really started to play consistent and we really feel we were able to play at the highest we could,” said de la Motte. “We got to playoffs and played some good contests there, we were happy with last year, but this year we have a whole new team, so we are starting from scratch.”
Look for seniors Jon Temple and Brandon Booz to be some of the noise makers for this year's Bulldog team after each batted over .300. Booz topped out with a .449 average, while Temple hit .319.
Booz's ability behind the backstop will provide great defensive play for the Bulldogs after returning as the team's catcher for the year, solidifying the position as one of the area's best hitting catchers.
Over six players will pitch for this year's Bulldog squad but look for junior ace Damon Treadwell to take a big role as well as first baseman Tate Sodertstrom. Senior Landon Curtis should also provide the team with some heavy innings.
“Damon is our ace for sure and we have good team speed, we have returners that can hit but we still need to work on it but I still like our offense,” said de la Motte.
A few positions at third and second might still be up for grabs before league starts but de la Motte is confident that he will get his positions down by the end of the week.
“We have got some guys who did not play as much last year but hopefully they come on strong,” said de la Motte. “We will play in a tough preseason and it might be like the basketball team as they came back and won league and made the playoffs.”
Turlock's first game will be at home against Lincoln of Stockton at 1 p.m. March. 5.