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Stanislaus Baseball eyeing big year
Junior transfer Ryan McDaniel makes a strong effort to deliver a rifle pitch during a preseason game this year. McDaniel was named California Collegiate Athletic Association pitcher of the week for his effort this past week. - photo by Photo by Marty Bicek

Coming off one of the most atrocious seasons in head coach Kenny Leonesio’s tenure, the Cal State Stanislaus baseball team is looking to leave the past behind them and turn this season into one of their more successful outings in recent years.

Last year the team posted a 10-40 overall record in the 2013 campaign, finishing dead last in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (5-35).

Last season the Warriors allowed the most runs in the CCAA (285) and scored the least (109). Second in runs scored was San Francisco State who tallied 149 in conference play.

Not only were the bats struggling to make contact with anything, but the pitching saw some of the highest numbers in every category since Leonesio began coaching in 2003 and won the CCAA “Coach of the Year” honors in his very first year at the helm.

One of the biggest downsides was that as a team the Warriors pitching ERA was 5.68 while opponents were posting up an ERA of 2.67.

There was a total of 12 pitchers out of 13 that made appearances who had an ERA of 4.82 or higher. In 2012 the Warriors team ERA was 3.52.

“I don’t have much to say about last year. It’s a whole new team, hardly any returners. Just a bad year,” Leonesio said about last season.

The bats are self-explanatory in a down year as the team batted .239 and opponents racked up a .316 average against the Warriors pitching.

This year, the Warrior men know what it will take to win and hopefully return to the postseason as they return eight seniors along six incoming freshman, one of whom has started all games this year thus far, Eriksen Dickens (7).

“We have about 16 new players. We have a mix of freshman, incoming transfers, etc. Our goal is to have somebody different step up every day and we will all play our role and it should help to be successful,” Leonesio said.

It has been over five years since the Warriors made the postseason dating back to the 2008 season when they went 37-23 overall—a school record of 37 wins—and finished fourth in the CCAA (24-12).

New to the game this season will be the stadium lights along with new stadium seating and a new press box, that will allow the Warriors to host night games, whereas before all games were only in the daytime.

“Our new hitting facility was built last summer and is fantastic. Also the addition of the lights, new stadium seating and new press box is fantastic. Now the community can come out and see what we’re all about with night games,” Leonesio said about the addition to the facility.

The remodeling of the seating and press box is currently under construction but should be finished in about five weeks Leonesio said.

The 2014 year is already in play for the Warriors baseball squad as they are 4-3 after seven games played in preseason, (4-1, home) and will begin league play this weekend.

In the four wins in only seven games, already shows the vast improvement made by the Warriors staff as the bats are up with an average of .288 thus far.

Success this year won’t come from just one side or one player but will have to be a joint effort from the entire squad from top to bottom, Leonesio stated.

 “The more we go on the better we will be, we are a well-rounded squad, not great in one aspect but pretty good on the mound and offensively and defensively, were consistent and I think that is what we need to do in order to succeed. In a 40 game season being consistent is key,” Leonesio said.

Senior Colton Beatty and junior Skippy Ferreria will anchor the bats for the Warriors as they are both hitting well over .435 after the first seven contests.

Junior and catcher Marcus Mastrobuoni has been a standout in the first seven games as he is batting .500 to go with his seven RBI and home-run.

Ryan McDaniel has looked to be the sure closer or go-to guy in the bullpen as the junior from Southern California has boasted up a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings pitched from the ‘pen thus far.

The ace pitcher for the Warriors this upcoming year will be sophomore and former Turlock High graduate Jeremy McDonald, who has started in two games and posted an ERA of 2.38.

“Jeremy [McDonald] is our number one guy as a sophomore. The more he gets out there the better he will improve on the mound,” Leonesio said.

Nick Voumard, another recent Turlock High graduate will also see some time from the ‘pen early on. His first outing against Fresno Pacific in the first week of the season resulted in three earned runs being scored in 1.1 innings of work.

It will be an interesting season to see how the Warriors will match up against the CCAA competitors in a very competitive league in the NCAA Division-II with every team posing a threat.

“We played some tough teams early on, but going into league we feel good and have a long ways to go,” Leonesio added.

Cal Poly Pomona currently sits atop in first place with a 10-0 overall posting along with a 4-0 CCAA record. Six teams are 2-2 in CCAA play leading to Friday’s matchup.

CCAA play will start for the Warriors this weekend as the Warriors will take on the San Francisco State Gators beginning on Friday at 2 p.m.