By Ray Hamill — After adapting to a new role for the Humboldt Crabs this summer, former McKinleyville Panther Cameron Saso is preparing for a new challenge this fall.
The 2020 Mack High graduate has accepted a scholarship offer to play for Division-II Colorado State University Pueblo.
Saso, who intends on playing baseball for as long as he can, is coming off two big years as a two-way player for Folsom Lake Community College and making it to the California state tournament both seasons.
“The coaching staff seem very solid, and they have a lot of former Division-I experience,” he said of his new team. “And that was a pretty big draw for me.”
So too was the opportunity to remain as a rare two-way player after playing that role effectively for both Folsom Lake and the Crabs in each of the past two years.
And while he was recruited by Colorado State Pueblo primarily as a pitcher, the Thunderwolves coaches are open to the idea of Saso playing some shortstop as well.
“They’re going to give me the opportunity to win the starting shortstop job, as well as pitch,” he said.
The move will be a big one for the former Panthers standout, who has rarely played outside of California, although in the summer of 2021 he did play for the Nevada Griffons, a collegiate summer team in Missouri.
“I’m sure it’s something I will be able to enjoy,” he said.
Making the transition a little easier, Saso will be joined on his new team by current Crabs teammate Wyatt Reginatto, who also played alongside the local standout at Folsom Lake.
Saso admits that playing as a two-way player is something he has questioned at times, but it’s something he has always wanted to do and it’s something he continues to enjoy.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” he said. “There are some days, whether it’s one side or the other, where I ask myself is this really what I want to do, or would I enjoy it more if I was doing one or the other. But the way I’ve been able to balance it is having coaches that understand it. Coaches who are not trying to push my body.
“Between (Crabs manager Robin) Guiver and the coaches at Folsom, and even (Matt) Tomlin with the (Humboldt) Eagles and (Scott) St. John at McKinleyville, they all made sure my body wasn’t hurting.”
This summer is Saso’s second with the Crabs and he has seen his role change, featuring more as a starter on the hill and spending less time at shortstop.
In 2022 he appeared in 10 games out of the bullpen (10.1 innings) while playing 24 games at shortstop and making 99 plate appearances.
This summer, he has made just 27 plate appearances in eight games at shortstop, but has started eight games on the mound and thrown 45 innings.
And he has become one of the most reliable pitchers on a talented and deep staff, with a record of 6-2 and a very impressive ERA of 2.00.
One thing, however, has remained constant this summer.
“It’s definitely been a fun summer,” he said. “It’s a blast playing at the ball park and being in front of the crowd.”
Saso also likes his teammates, some of whom he has played alongside for years — on the local youth travel team, the Renegades, as well as with the Humboldt Eagles — players like Merek Sears and Caleb Ruiz.
“Obviously I like being around all the guys,” he said. “It’s a good group of guys. And I like our pitching staff. I think we’ve been tough in a lot of games, and I like our ability to find a way to win almost every game.”
Saso, who will major in Spanish Communications, wants to play baseball for as long as he can and he hopes to extend his career after his time at Colorado State Pueblo.
“Ideally, that’s what I’m hoping,” he said.
Saso and the Crabs will be back in action this weekend, when they host the Fresno A’s in a three-game series at the Arcata Ball Park, with game one set for Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Crabs are 32-7.