By Ray Hamill — The College of the Redwoods baseball season gets under way this weekend when the Corsairs host Shasta College at Bomber Field in Eureka.
The doubleheader is set for Saturday and is one of just three at home all season for the team, which will play most of its 28 games at a neutral venue in Redding.
That’s just one of the many challenges facing the players and interim head coach Andrew Aiello, who takes over from long-time coach Brad Morgan, who was relieved of his duties last year.
“Practice has been good. We’re trying to put in a lot of different stuff, a lot of of fundamentals,” said Aiello, who was an assistant coach with the football team in 2019 before joining the baseball staff. “We’re just trying to get back into it.”
Aiello will have a relatively small roster at his disposal in the wake of the the long shutdown caused by the pandemic, with 26 players right now after a few left during the uncertainty.
But that’s not slowing anyone’s enthusiasm for the upcoming campaign.
“We’re not going to back down. We embrace the challenge,” Aiello said. “We’re happy to do what we have to do, and definitely thankful to have the opportunity.”
Fortuna’s Caleb Crawley is expected to start at third base, one of a handful of key players this spring.
“He’s a guy that likes to compete and he’s got some talent,” Aiello said.
Max Shanks is back at first base and is “swinging the stick very well,” according to his coach, while Patrick Morgan returns to man second base and big things are also expected out of infielder/center fielder Dylan Short.
Two pitchers also return, including Chandler Jones, who is described by his coach as a bulldog and will get the opening day start, and Bly Moser, who will start game two.
Among the newcomers expected to have an immediate impact is shortstop Raul Romero-Soto.
“He’s very smart,” Aiello said. “His baseball IQ is extremely high and he’s definitely got some pop in his bat.”
New catcher Josue Barcelo is also expected to play a major role, along with outfielder Spencer Roach.
“What I like most about them is how they’re embracing the challenge,” Aiello said of his players. “Nobody sat there feeling sorry for themselves. The guys have been working really hard. And there’s been a lot of support for each other. They’re definitely trying to push each other to be better.”
Other locals on this year’s roster include Fortuna’s Garrett Aust, Eureka’s Curtis Edge and St. Bernard’s Isaiah Kalis.
The Corsairs’ other home games include doubleheaders against Siskiyous on May 8 and Shasta a week later.