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PC baseball set for new season
In his third season as the Porterville College baseball coach, Jake Kiser, believes slowly, but surely, he has his program on the upswing.
Kiser said he enters this season with an “extremely” young team, but also said he has a solid corp of sophomores. And while PC returns only a handful of sophomores who received considerable playing time last year, Kiser said he believes the overall talent of his program continues to gradually improve.
“I still think we are going in the right direction as far as the student-athletes we’re getting,” Kiser said. “We’ve got to continue on that and build on that.”
But Porterville’s young team also has only nine nonconference games to prepare for the tough Central Valley Conference. “We’ll need to get it going quickly,” Kiser said.
Here’s a look at the 2013 PC baseball team:
Andrew Lopez — The returning starting catcher from Dinuba, Lopez looks to build on last season in which he earned all-CVC honorable mention honors. “He did a solid job for us last year,” Kiser said.
Mitch Doucette — The freshman from Ontario, Canada, will be the backup catcher and could see time at designated hitter.
James Lopez — The sophomore from Mt. Whitney finished strong last season in earning all-CVC second team honors. Lopez, who served mainly as the designated hitter last year, will take over at first base this season. “He’s the heart and soul of the team,” said Kiser, who also said Lopez will hit mostly at No. 3 and sometimes at No. 4 in the order.
James Bingaman — The sophomore from Australia didn’t see much playing time last year, but Kiser said Bingaman is ready to take over as the starting second baseman.
Christian Hamett — The freshman from Hoover will be the starting shortstop. Kiser said Hamett has solid arm strength and runs well. “One of our better athletes,” Kiser said.
Mitchell Villarreal — The sophomore from Porterville High will be the starting third baseman. “A solid defensive player,” Kiser said.
Tyler Czech — The freshman from Alberta, Cananda, will be a utility player and will be needed to fill in at second, short and third.
Zack Watson — The sophomore from PHS will be the starting left fielder. “He’s got some good pop in his bat,” Kiser said.
Rory French — The freshman from Mt. Whitney will be the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter. “Not a typical leadoff hitter,” Kiser said. “He’s got a little bit of pop.”
Kyle Verdegaal — Another sophomore who didn’t play much last year, Verdegaal will be the starting right fielder. Kiser said Verdegaal is PC’s best defensive outfielder with a strong arm and speed. “One of the better runners in the league,” Kiser said.
Fernando Singh — The freshman from Bakersfield High had a good fall with the bat and is making a case for a spot in the lineup. He will see time in the outfield and could see time as a DH as well.
Bryce Telfer — The freshman from Exeter has “a good idea at the plate,” Kiser said, and is another candidate to see time in the outfield and DH.
Zach Johnson — The freshman from British Columbia, Canada, who’s a big, physical player, Kiser said, should begin the season as the starting DH.
Dylan Watson — The sophomore from Exeter could see time in the outfield, at first base and at DH.
Devron Maxie — A freshman from Edison, Maxie adds depth in the outfield.
Anthony Estrada — A sophomore from Golden West, Estrada will be a utility player.
Mitch Benson — The freshman from Ontario, Canada, was a candidate to be a starting outfielder before sustaining a knee injury and his status is unknown.
Dakota Heredia — A sophomore from Hoover, Heredia could see time at first base and DH.
Matt Ferreira — A freshman from Tulare Western, Ferreira can play first and third and could be a left-handed hitter off the bench.
Kurt Rathjens — Rathjens was one of PC’s top pitchers in 2011 before sitting out last season. Rathjens should lead PC’s pitching staff. He’s scheduled to receive the opening day start at 6 p.m. Friday when Porterville plays Bakersfield College in Bakersfield.
Dakota Kirkman — The sophomore from Exeter came on strong at the end of last year out of the bullpen and should be PC’s No. 2 starter.
Jaime Good — The freshman from Exeter is a candidate to be the No. 3 starter. “I think he’ll do a good job for us,” Kiser said. “He’ll throw a lot of strikes.”
Johnny Sanchez — The freshman from Garces is another candidate to be the No. 3 starter. Kiser said Sanchez is another pitcher who pounds the strike zone who mixes speed and location well.
Brady Yard — Another sophomore who came on strong at the end of last year out of the bullpen, Yard will continue to be counted on as a relief pitcher.
Kyle Stout — A sophomore left-hander from Central Valley Christian, Stout was mainly counted on to face left-handed hitters last year, but will be counted on to expand his role out of the bullpen this season.
David Allen — The returning sophomore is another left-hander out of the bullpen.
Dave Hood — The 6-5 freshman from Ontario, Canada, Kiser said Hood has “probably the best arm on the team” and could obviously eventually be counted on out of the bullpen.
Zach Laurin — A freshman from Ontario, Canada, Kiser said Laurin has a good fastball and should eat up a lot of innings out of the bullpen.
Max Hobbs — The returning sophomore is another left-hander out of the bullpen.
Nick Garcia — The freshman from Bullard, Garcia is another left-hander out of the bullpen. “He has good stuff,” Kiser said. “I think he can contribute to the staff.”