Receiving all but one first place vote in the coaches' preseason poll, the Mustangs baseball team will start the season the same way it ended last season at the top of the 2019 NorCal Poll.
"A lot of that is based on last year," said Head Coach Reed Peters, who led the team to a state championship in 2018. "You kind of expect that after winning the state championship that you start the season number one. We have lots to prove. It puts a target on our back and we will have to come out ready to go as we will get everyone's best shot."
Despite losing several big bats from last season, the Mustangs return Zack Mathis who led the team in runs batted in last season.
"Mathis brings a lot of energy and consistency to our team. He played second and third last year but will play short for us this season," said Peters.
With an expected top of the order to include Jimmy McClenaghan, Zack Mathis, Vinny Bologna, and Anthony Lucchetti, the Mustangs will have an experienced first four that combined for 126 runs batted in last season.
"McClenaghan had a great year for us last year, Bologna has really had a great fall and swinging it well with some power and Dillon Tatum is a freshman that should hit fifth and he has some good power," said Peters."I think we are deeper this year in terms of the lineup one through nine. There are a lot of guys that can do some damage. Our mentality has got to be to pass the baton and get on base and let the next guy do his thing. There are not a lot of holes in our lineup."
While their batting order will have some familiar faces, their pitching staff will have a much different look this season.
"Pitching wise we have some good arms," said Peters about a pitching staff that lost a staff leader in wins from last season but returns Kevin Kyle after a nine-win season.
Expected to be one of the team's top starters this season, Kyle was named the championship series co-MVP and is committed to San Jose State next year.
Left-handed Robert Gasser is expected to also have a big role after transferring from the University of New Mexico after a good fall, showcasing a fastball in the 90's. He is committed to the University of Houston next year.
That proved to be the case in the team's first game of the season as all three pitched a scoreless inning of relief.
The Mustangs opened the season with a 6-0 win on Jan. 26 at Monterey Peninsula.
Dillon Tatum opened the scoring with a solo home run in the second inning and Anthony Lucchetti's two-run home run extended the lead to 3-0 in the third inning. Lucchetti finished with three runs batted in.
"If you are not playing on the last day of the year then it is not a good season and that is kind of the expectation we have around here," said Peters.