By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors got their first win of the new baseball season on Friday afternoon, and if early indications are anything to go by this year’s team will be a scrappy bunch.
Head coach John Snell is in his third year with the team and has a lot of young players on the roster.
But they have some noticeable talent sprinkled in and have an attitude second to none every time they take the field.
“They remind me a lot of the (2019) team,” Snell said after Friday’s 7-2 win at home to South Fork. “They fight hard every game.”
Snell recalls some opposing coaches praising the fight of his 2019 team, which finished the season winless but never seemed to give up hope and battled in just about every game.
“I see that also in this group,” he said.
They had to battle all the way on Friday to hold on for the win.
After watching his team roll to an easy 22-0 win in the opening game of Friday’s doubleheader, South Fork head coach Chris Contreras started eight freshmen for game two and the Warriors ran out to a quick advantage.
Contreras then put his starters back in and they began to threaten the Warriors’ lead.
The young Hoopa players, however, held tough and managed to pull out the victory.
This spring, Snell will rely heavily on his lone senior, Daniel Minton, a returning all-league selection from 2019.
Minton will be one of the team’s two top pitchers, along with Johnathan Martinez, who pitched almost the entire game for the win on Friday, striking out nine batters.
Catcher Ryan Ames is also expected to play a big role this year after just joining the team on Thursday.
“I thought he really settled our team down,” Snell said of the junior after his first appearance. “He’s a solid catcher, a solid baseball player.”
Ames is also expected to pitch a little, while Snell will send some of the younger players to the mound this season to see how they might do.
“They’re working hard and improving every day,” Snell said of his team. “They’re learning and they seem to be enjoying it. It’s fun to be back out there for sure.”