By Ray Hamill — A senior-heavy Del Norte baseball team with a new head coach could be ready to surprise some people around the Big 5 this spring.
After an impressive scrimmage against Arcata on Friday, the Warriors are hoping to officially get the new season under way at home to McKinleyville on Wednesday afternoon.
Whether they can challenge the traditional powers in league this year remains to be seen, but with a deep rotation and a group of talented senior leaders well accustomed to winning in sports, the Warriors could be in line for a breakout season.
“What I like about my team is they’re really buying into the team concept,” said head coach Brandon Coborn, who is one of four new head coaches in the Big 5 this spring. “I think we’re going to be a scrappy bunch and give everybody our best shot.”
Coborn takes over from the departed Roger Schultz and inherits a roster full of multi-sport athletes who have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years in sports such as football, wrestling and basketball.
We’ll have to wait and see if that translates to the baseball fields, but Coborn does have good leadership and a handful of players who have honed their baseball talents while playing American Legion ball.
“Our seniors are our leaders,” said Coborn, who was an assistant coach at College of the Redwoods under Brad Morgan and has been a regular umpire in recent years at Humboldt Crabs and local high school games.
Coborn and Warriors fans will have high expectations for players such as Ethan Thomas, William Bommelyn, Brody Mattz and Cole Blackburn in particular, along with fellow seniors Cooper Maxwell, Sylas Samples and Damien Garcia.
Most of those seniors are three-sport athletes and several of them will see time in a deep rotation.
“We’ve got about 10 guys that can pitch,” Coborn said. “And we really don’t know who our No. 1 is right now. Everybody’s going to see innings.”
Coborn threw six different pitchers in the seven-inning scrimmage at Arcata and was pleased with how they performed.
And that wasn’t all the new coach was happy about.
“We swung the bat well, we pitched well and we played some pretty good defense,” he said. “Obviously there’s still some things we’ve got to work on.”
The team’s two juniors, Collin Tromble and Mason Borges, also are expected to play big roles this season, while a talented group of five sophomores and freshmen offer plenty of hope for the future of the program.
The sophomores include Aidan Rice, Preston Daniels, Eddie Velazquez and Saxon Taylor, all of whom saw playing time a year ago, while freshman Kanyon Starkey is expected to make an immediate impact.
“They’re a talented young bunch,” the head coach said. “Everyone’s competing for spots.”
Last year, the Del Norte boys were 5-13 overall and 1-11 in league play, and Coborn is hoping his senior-heavy and experienced lineup can compete for a league title this spring.
“I think the league is going to be really competitive this year,” he said. “It’s going to be a really exciting spring for all of us.”
As for Wednesday’s game, Coborn is hoping the weather will cooperate and they will have the field ready to go.
“We’re going to do everything we can to have the field ready,” he said.
First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
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