CHICO – When the Chico State baseball team last played against Cal State San Bernardino at Nettleton Stadium on Sunday, March 8, 2020, the Wildcats roster contained 14 seniors, 21 juniors, and just six underclassmen. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic became a part of almost everyone’s daily life across the globe and many sports came to a halt.
The 2021 baseball season was cancelled, and now 23 months later, the Wildcats will return to their home turf on Friday as they host St. Martin in a four-game series to begin their season. The first pitch is Friday at 2 p.m., with the doubleheader starting at noon on Saturday. The series finale will take place on Sunday with a start time of 11am.
Chico State’s roster includes a number of new players, including 30 newcomers out of 36 players on the Wildcats’ roster. Although the Wildcats have a lot of freshmen on their roster, Chico State enters the California Community College Athletic Association Precision Poll as the No. 2 team.
“A lot of newcomers for sure, but the way we play baseball here is never going to change,” said junior Willie Lajoie, who returned from the 2020 roster in his third year with the program. “The small ball, gritty style is never going to change. These will be the faces that are about to change, and I think we can take a little hit. I think we will land the rock, pitch the rock and be able to hit the rock. ,
Lajoie led the 2020 team in batting average (.410), runs scored (18), hits (32), slugging percentage (.615), on-base percentage (.472) and first in RBI with 18 en route stay in place. to CCAA All-Star honors in his second season.
“Willie has been really good on the field and he’s been good with it in the clubhouse,” said Chico State coach Dave Taylor. “Guys don’t know what to expect at our event. It’s a certain culture that takes a while to get used to and Willie helped and carried on that process, but you can’t really get into the official until then.” Can’t go unless competing against another team in that dugout.”
Taylor mentioned that one of the strengths of this year’s team is once again its defence, especially in the infield, which is something the Wildcats have always prided themselves on. He said it could be as good as any dating back in 1997. Another change from the prior season is the Wildcats’ ability at the plate. He said that after the Wildcats hosted the CCAA playoffs in mid-May, he and his staff’s recruitment strategy has turned to the hopes of making it to the regional and super regional playoffs.
Grady Morgan, a junior outfielder who played the 2020 season with the Wildcats after transferring from Butte College, said this year’s hitting on the team is the best in his three years with the program.
Taylor said, “I think if we get into a position where we have to hit the ball a little bit with other teams and score some runs, I think we have a little bit more depth now.” ” “It is not just a short ball game. I think there is an opportunity for the middle-order guys and a little bit further down for us to put in some skewed numbers. ,
Morgan talked about the players on this year’s team, who were team people, everyone “knew their piece for the puzzle.” He said that he is ready to put 100 percent effort in every single match.
Taylor said the time was right to start the season, as the Wildcats have been restricted to inter-squad matchups since they began practicing together in the fall.
“The time is right for us to be able to compete against anyone other than ourselves,” Taylor said.
Being isolated at Chico’s, Taylor and his staff can usually see players in person when recruiting in places such as the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego, but last year’s recruits were mainly through video only. has been limited. He called it “unchained water” when he went into season one and didn’t have a complete grasp of who the people in front of him were. Taylor said he and his staff have a great idea, but there’s still uncertainty. This is different from previous years when Chico State went into a non-convention drama designed to “take care of things.”
During non-conference games this season, especially in the first two series of the season against St. Martin’s and Fresno Pacific, Taylor and his staff were able to let their men loose a bit and evaluate them in live game situations. are keen.
“At the end of the day it is a competitive environment and we have always taken pride in having success at this park, but this is totally different,” Taylor said. “But I’m happy for my friends that the day has finally come. I think if we can get over it, as long as they’ve waited 23 months for this day to come, I almost feel like You give it to them and let them get their feet wet and then okay we did, now we go.”
Following Chico State’s opening series with the St. Martins, Chico State will travel to Fresno Pacific on February 11–12, then return home for a doubleheader against Simpson on February 16. The Wildcats will begin their CCAA game on February 25 against Sonoma State.
The full schedule can be viewed at https://chicowildcats.com/sports/baseball/schedule.
Tickets to Chico State Baseball Games for Chico State students with a valid student ID, $10 for general admission, $6 for seniors as well as students arriving with a student ID, ages 3-12 $4 for, and children are free. Free for ages 2 and under.
Chico State’s COVID-19 policy for outdoor events states, “Fans participating in outdoor intercollegiate athletic events are expected to follow all campus health and safety guidelines: indoors, or when outdoors and If physical distancing cannot be achieved, check symptoms and masks. Spectators have been banned from all team areas. ,