By Ray Hamill — Time will tell if the Del Norte Warriors are ready to challenge the traditional powerhouses in Big 5 baseball this spring, but a young team is quickly growing up and appears ready to make some serious noise.
The Del Norte boys open the season at home to Hoopa on Thursday and head coach Roger Schultz expects his team to be competitive when they finally take the field.
“Arcata’s always going to be the team to beat in the Big 5. (Their head coach) Troy (Ghisetti) does a good job, but I really think you’re going to find us right near the top,” Schultz said. “We’re going to be competitive every pitch.”
There are several reasons to believe the Warriors will back up their coach’s faith on the field.
A young lineup features four players who have been playing American Legion baseball with Ghisetti for the past few summers, and all four will bring plenty of baseball experience to the table.
The Warriors also feature plenty of pitching depth, including four talented lefties who will give the coaches plenty of options on the mound.
And on top of that, Schultz says his players have come to play this season and that he appreciates their attitude and effort in the preseason.
“I like their youthful exuberance, and their willingness to go out there and compete,” the coach said. “I’m all about effort and being positive, and I really like these guys’ work ethic. They’re baseball players.”
Senior shortstop/pitcher Jared Dixon is expected to lead the way and is among the most talented and experienced players in the league, having honed his talents for the past few summers under Ghisetti.
And the senior standout, who will bat third in the lineup, has been setting a perfect example for his younger teammates.
“He’s the kid who will do anything you want,” Schultz said. “He just grabs his glove and goes out and doesn’t care what he has to do.”
Fellow senior Isaac Arriola is also expected to play a big role, along with juniors William Bommelyn and Brody Mattz, and all three have plenty of American Legion experience.
“They all got some good work in during the summer,” Schultz said.
Arriola, Bommelyn and Mattz will all see time on the mound and all are all lefties.
“I really like our pitching this year,” Schultz said. “My pitching roster is extremely deep. We have nine kids that can throw.”