Baseball team redevelops foci – 2/27/2008

“This is a baseball team, not a drama squad,” said Brian Roby, sophomore outfielder for the De Anza Dons, when asked earlier this month about his team’s approach towards distractions from the game.

There were plenty of distractions for the Dons last year, as a number of players were involved in a sexual assault case that yielded a series of suspensions and much unwanted bad publicity for the De Anza athletics program.

Although the charges in the case were eventually dropped, it has been hard for the team to shake what they feel is an “ongoing stigma,” acknowledged Head Coach Scott Hertler.

“That’s been a big thing for us this year, trying to redevelop the program. We’ve kept all character guys. They’re a good group that will come around.”

One of the things Hertler has been placing particular emphasis on this year is academic achievement. “We had 17 guys over 3.0 (GPA) last quarter,” he said.

On the field, one of the major challenges facing the team this season has been developing a chemistry between the many new players on the squad. To that end, many of the players make it a point to hang out together off the field, both after games and practices, and at lunch.

And despite a string of early losses, the team is optimistic about its prospects.

“It’s simple. If we do our job, we’ll win,” said Travis Adams, a freshman player out of Bellarmine Prep.

“We’re struggling a little bit,” admits Hertler. “We’re the type of team that has to be out here everyday, and the weather hasn’t been good to us.”

Still, he adds, “Junior college baseball is a game in which the last place team can beat the first place team on any given day. I keep telling the guys, ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.'”

The team counts among its strengths this season not only speed and defense, but also diversity. Interspersed among the many freshmen that arrived from local high schools are two new players from Canada and Japan, respectively.

“It’s a team effort, you can’t win with just one player,” said Jamie Wagner, sophomore pitcher.

The team is still hoping to make it to the playoffs, but its more immediate aim is to develop the skills of its many rookies. Helping players reach the next level has been a perennial hallmark of the De Anza baseball program. Among the many Dons from last year’s squad who found opportunities at upper division schools are Zach Samuels, who received a scholarship to play at UC Santa Barbara, and Robert Sedin, who signed with Kansas University.

“We’ve got to be patient because we are so young,” said Hertler. “These are good, skilled players and students who want to excel in class. They’ll be alright.”

Co-written with Jay Donde
Published for La Voz Weekly
2/27/2008
Original Link: Baseball team redevelops foci

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About Stan Rezaee
I'm a writer from San Jose who has contributed to several online and print publications.

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