By Andrew Luberda
Copper Basin News
The 2014 Bearcats baseball team enters the season looking to shake off the disappointment of the way the 2013 season ended. With 9 varsity players returning from last season’s ball club, they are determined to have a better finish this season.
“The returners were not happy with how last year’s season finished,” Bearcats’ head coach Rene Pacheco said in an email to the Copper Basin News. “We felt that had the team played up to their potential that we could have gone a little deeper in the playoffs.”
Make no mistake, the ‘Cats were a very competitive team last year as their 19 – 8 record would indicate. They reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 Division IV State Championship before an uncharacteristically poor performance against Phoenix Christian ended their season.
Multi-sport star and four-year varsity baseball player Dominic Bravo is the only senior on a team loaded with talent. The ‘Cats have 6 juniors entering their third varsity season and 2 sophomores entering their second varsity season.
“With only one senior, we feel that we are still a little young but also experienced,” Pacheco said. “Most of the starters have been playing at the varsity level since their freshman and sophomore years.”
Pacheco said he’s excited about the pitching and that’s saying something considering the loss of ace Alex Carrera from last year’s rotation. Seth Harmon, Jacob Pace, and Destry Yocum all pitched at the varsity level last year. Juniors Douglas McPeak, Robbin Newman, and Sophomore Johnny Wernett will also see time on the mound.
“We feel that we have experience and depth with our pitching staff,” Pacheco said.
The ‘Cats return their entire infield from last year, including catcher Jacob Pace. Destry Yocum 3B, Domini Bravo SS, Derek Pacheco 2B, and a platoon of Wernett/McPeak at first base round out the infield. Seth Harmon and Robbin Newman return in the outfield.
Most coaches are cautiously optimistic at this time of the season and politely decline any bold predictions. After a long offseason to think about last year’s ending, Pacheco said the ‘Cats have only one goal.
“This year our goal is to win it all,” he said. “We feel that we have some hard work that we need to put in between now and the first week of May.”
The Bearcats open their season on March 4 at Gilbert Classical Academy. The game starts at 3:30 p.m.