The Los Medanos College Mustangs are looking to build on a solid 2012 baseball season and aim towards winning a state championship this season.
They finished last season with a 21-15-1 record, ending up placing second in the Bay Valley division of the Northern California Conference behind Laney College.
As January winds down, the Mustangs are itching to start the season as they have been practicing and playing inter-squad games in preparation for their first game of the season on Feb. 1 against Mission College.
For the second year coach and first year head coach Anthony D’ Albora said that the ultimate goal for the team is to win the state championship. But, their biggest focus is just going through the process it takes to get there which is taking the season game by game and winning as many as you can.
D’Albora’s personal goal, however, is to have as many players as possible go on to 4-year schools. “If we could have 12 division I players move on after this year, I’d say I did a pretty good job. Even if we got 10-12 sophomores to move on and have scholarships pay for most of it, I would then say as a staff we did a good job.”
Chad Highberger, a sophomore catcher for the team, said he hoped to end up going to a 4-year school and do his best to “produce” for the team which will make it easier for his coach to move him on to where he wants to be. He is also a perfectionist and wants to improve on every aspect of his game from the previous season. Johnny Bloom, a freshman first baseman, hopes to “build team chemistry with the guys because it makes us come together and become a brotherhood.”
D’Albora and the players shared having a routine was the best way to go about getting prepared for practice or a game. He said, “ the biggest challenge for our guys is to just unleash the beast a little bit and to feel free in competing. We put them through a lot of work in practice so we have to show up on game day and just compete our guts out for nine innings and have fun doing it.” Highberger said that he does the same thing everyday, regardless of it being a practice day or game day. He said you have to “get in a routine you are comfortable with, then when you go out on the field you are just as comfortable as the day before. It even goes as far as eating the same foods everyday.” Bloom said that before a game he tries to keep calm and hang out with friends in order to “slow down the pace so that once you get into the game you are calm and relaxed and not trying to over think and be focused.”
The players all try to stay loose and have fun before games, which includes a few pre-game rituals. The team does a dizzy bat soft toss competition before batting practice, which loosens the group up. The position players also like to go into an NFL style kick coverage sprint across the field as a final stretch before a game, said D’Albora. Highberger likes to wear specific batting gloves and tie his shoes a specific way every time, while Bloom puts a image of Saint Christopher, the saint of travel, in his sock before the team travels.
Regardless of their specific routines and rituals, the Mustangs are poised to take the season by storm and hope the LMC community will come out in great numbers to support their quest of winning a state championship.
LMC’s first home game is against Mission College on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m.