By Sierra Trujillo
The crack of a bat, the snap of a glove.
These sounds can only mean one thing: the return of baseball season.
The Cal Poly Pomona baseball team will play its first games of 2015 with a road series against Dixie State, beginning on Feb. 6 and continuing through the weekend.
The Broncos ended 2014 with a 32-17 overall record and a 23-12 conference record.
This put them in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Tournament in the No. 4 spot.
After winning their first game, the Broncos lost two in a row, eliminating them from the tournament. However, they still were chosen for the No. 4 spot in the NCAA Division II West Region Tournament.
CPP did not have much luck here, going two-and-out and ending the season for good.
“I think it was kind of a sour taste in your mouth when you go two-and-out,” said Broncos head coach Randy Betten, who is entering his fifth season with CPP.
“But we didn’t play well at the end of the year.”
The abrupt end to last season put a shadow over the success that the Broncos had throughout the year.
At the start of the CCAA Championship Tournament, 10 Broncos were named to the All-CCAA teams and David Armendariz was named the 2014 CCAA Most Valuable Player.
To continue the success of 2014’s regular season, Betten began preparing for 2015 differently.
Betten named senior Nick Cooksey and junior Max Bethell co-captains, which is something he has never done before.
He expects these two to lead the team while they’re on the field.
“None of them are really vocal and they don’t need to be,” said Betten. “I just need them to go out and prepare every single day, and be ready to compete when it’s time to compete.
“Both those guys have done that, and they’ve both been in our program since their freshman year.”
The appointment of captains was necessary, as CPP had many starting seniors last season. This left them with holes in the field and the line-up at the end of 2014.
The entire starting outfield graduated, leaving Betten and the coaching staff many openings to fill. However, Betten said that the new players should fill the spots seamlessly.
“I think they’re better to start, not that those guys weren’t good, but I think we’re at a better starting point and we’re better throughout the fall as well as going into the spring,” said Betten.
The Broncos also need to work on the infield, but not for the same reasons.
Many returning infield players, with Cooksey, seniors Matt Mueoz and Mike Philp, and junior Jason Padlo, are all returning to the team.
But the Broncos need to tighten up their fielding to reduce errors.
“We knew we had to play better defense, so that’s something we kind of emphasized in the recruiting process, and that’s what we’ve been stronger at,” said Betten.
Cooksey said that working on infield play was a major emphasis at practice.
“We do a lot of ground balls, a lot of infield drills, just all day during practice,” said Cooksey.
Many changes are occurring in the field, but the Broncos’ pitching rotation and bullpen will stay the same.
Bethell, seniors Austin Boyle and J.J. Franklin, junior Cody Ponce and sophomore Jake Menzhuber are all returning.
“There’s a lot of starters back,” said Betten. “A lot of pitching returns from last year, which was still strong from last year, so we’re encouraged by that.”
With the success of last season and its sudden finish still looming, the Broncos have one goal in mind: make 2015 a better season than 2014.
“We’ve just been out here every day, hitting it hard on the field, in the weight room early in the morning and just trying to put ourselves in game situations all day,” said Cooksey.
Hayden Yi / The Poly Post
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