By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors are preaching baseball fundamentals this season, and if they can actually get outside to practice at some stage, they may be able to put them into play.
Like many local teams, it’s been a frustrating few weeks since practice began.
They’ve had limited outdoor time because of the weather, while many of their players only joined up with the squad last week after the school’s big basketball run.
“It’s been real swampy, it’s been raining, and there’s been snow,” first-year head coach John Snell said. “We’ve been in the gym a lot.”
The good news for a Warriors program looking to turn the corner is that they have several top-notch athletes on this year’s team, and athletes who will bring a winning attitude to the field.
The challenge on the other hand, will be getting those athletes up to speed on some of the fundamentals of the game, and changing the mentality of a team that has not managed even three wins in league play in any of the past six seasons.
“Fundamentals and hard work, that’s what we need,” Snell said. “And we’ll surprise some people.”
The Warriors certainly have the athletes.
“We have kids with a little direction and good leadership skills,” Snell said. “We had a playoff football team and a championship basketball team, and we’ve got a lot of those kids (on the baseball team).”
Including seniors Leonard Smith, Sonny Jarnaghan, Scott Searle and Weyk-Seyr Hutchinson.
Smith will pitch and play catcher, likewise with Jarnaghan, who also is expected to see time in the outfield, and both have a lot of potential, according to the coach.
Searle, meanwhile, is one of the more fundamentally solid players on the roster and will play second base, while Hutchinson is expected to provide some power at the plate and will play first and third.
The head coach admits he is still working out who will play in a lot of positions, especially with limited time outdoors thus far.
“With the few weeks we’ve had, we’ve been working on ground ball fundamentals, and we’re looking pretty solid,” Snell said. “Which will allow us to work more on our hitting and outfield.”
Three juniors who had a big impact on the football field will be hoping to carry some of that momentum over to baseball.
David Ruiz will likely play some first base, and looks “very solid with the bat,” according to his coach, while Milton Mabry has the potential to be a dangerous hitter.
John Smith will also see time on the mound.
“They listen real well and they’re very supportive of each other,” the head coach said of his players.
Sophomore transfer Daniel Minton joins the Warriors this season and will pitch and play middle infield, while freshman Kagan Renteria has shown plenty of promise early and is an “intelligent player and a hard worker,” according to his coach.
“We’re hoping to surprise a few people this year,” Snell said.