Experienced group looking to lead Broncos

The 2019 men’s baseball season is in full swing and the Broncos are working hard and gearing up for their first game that is a little over a week away.

The Broncos will start play as the No. 16 ranked team in the NCAA Division II pre-season poll.

Although the Broncos lost seven seniors last season, they have a large returning class to help bolster their chances for success.

“We have [14] seniors this year, we are an older ball club, so I’m excited to see what those guys can do,” head coach Randy Betten said. “Some guys are going to get pushed up to more significant roles.”

Baseball enters the season ranked 16th in the NCAA Division II preseason poll. COURTESY OF CCAA

One of those seniors is first baseman Nic Hernandez, who is entering his fourth year playing for the Broncos.

Hernandez has had an impressive career at CPP and serves as one of the team’s leaders.

Last season he led the team with a .356 batting average, 10 home runs and 41 runs batted in, earning him First Team all-CCAA honors.

This will be his last season in green and gold and he has high expectations for the team.

“This is probably one of the best teams we’ve had since I’ve been here, so I expect us to go all the way to North Carolina and win it all,” Hernandez said.

“We have our first starting nine guys on the field who can hit and another nine right behind them that can do the exact same.

“Pitching-wise, we have a lot more relievers than we’ve ever had and the starters have upped their game too.”

In the 2018 season, the Broncos finished conference play with a record of 25-19, with a season record of 30-24.

The Broncos are ready to take on this year’s competition with the goal of going all the way to the College World Series.

“Last year we struggled with the doubleheader days. We would be strong the first two games, but then the third and fourth we would slow down,” senior pitcher Austin Isenhart said.

“I think if we just put our foot on the gas the entire year and not let up, that will help us out.”

This season will mark coach Betten’s ninth year as head coach for the Broncos.

In his eight years prior to this one, he has led the Broncos to five NCAA tournaments and two NCAA Division II West Region Championships.

“My first year, I inherited a group that was older and they performed really well. I think this team will, hopefully, do the same,” Betten said.

“This team reminds me of the 2011 team, older on the position players side and older on the mound. The chemistry has been great and they have been working extremely hard.”

The Broncos are returning five players from last season who received All-CCAA honors last season.

Senior pitcher Dylan Francis is returning for the Broncos this season.

Francis had a record of 5-3 with an era of 3.80.

Being third last season with 71 innings pitched, Francis led the team with 75 strikeouts.

The Broncos will be hopping on a plane and heading to Colorado for their first game of the season against UC Colorado Springs on Feb. 1.

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