ROCKVILLE — Stacked with local talent and with sights set on a return to postseason play, the Solano Community College baseball team is ready to start the 2013 season.
With the influx of new talent, the Falcons have their sights set on a return to the postseason after missing out last season by one game.
Every year coach Scott Stover tries to get the best local talent, but some years he’s been more successful than others.
“That’s the goal, is to get the local guys and obviously try to get the most talented ones and this year, I think, every kid we went after that’s from our area, we got,” said Stover, who’s entering his 11th season with the Falcons.
Stover attributed the number of local players sticking around to a number of factors.
“Since 2006, I believe, we have more wins than those other programs,” he said. “We’re there, we have a chance to win our conference every year, we have a chance to get to a super regional, and hopefully this year it’ll give us more of a chance to get to a final four.”
A year after having just two sophomores in the everyday lineup, Stover said this year’s team brings a good deal of experience as well as talent in its returning core.
“This year it’s different because we ran a lot of freshmen out there last year,” Stover said. “So you have (Alex) Crosby and (Zach) Welz and (Ryan) Anderson, to name three, played a lot, played almost every day – except for Anderson, who got all those starts.”
Those three were preseason All-America selections last year and all were successful.
“Plus throwing in Aaron Brasher, who should have been an all-league guy, to me he might be the best defensive catcher we’ve had when it just comes to throwing,” Stover continued. “And we’ve had Ryan Lipkin, Vic Romero, some good guys.”
The maturity level on this year’s team is also higher.
“We have a lot of mature guys that matured a lot faster than they probably should have, just being thrown in the mix,” Stover said. “So we’re going to benefit from the mistakes we made last year.”
Brasher, a running back at Vallejo High, is back behind the plate and Stover plans to try him at the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Crosby returns at first base and batting in the 3 hole, Justin Quilatan out of Hogan is back at second base.
Freshman David Fernandez out of Armijo won the starting job at shortstop and will bat later in the order, Stover said.
Tucker Bishop, a freshman from Benicia, earned the job at third base with solid defense and good hitting in the fall.
“He had a great fall and we’ve had our eye on him since he was a sophomore,” Stover said. “He’s got good hands over there and he’ll be our No. 5 hitter.”
Things are a bit less settled in the outfield.
Welz will start for sure. Slugging sophomore Nick Spini, who broke his wrist last season at first base, moves to left field and will also DH and see some action at first.
Then the then freshmen are left to battle it out for the third spot.
The Falcons have Jordan Tolbert of Vacaville, Giovanni Torres from Fairfield, who walked on to the team and Rodriguez’s Edgar Ibarra – also a walk-on guy to fill the final outfield spot.
The top two spots in the pitching rotation are set with Anderson (Fairfield) returning as the staff ace.
Sophomore Anthony Pezzola has recovered from surgery a couple of years ago and will be the No. 2 guy.
“We don’t play three games in a week until the third week, so have time to figure out No. 3,” Stover said.
The Falcons lost Angel Lara to a snowboarding accident at the beginning of January, so right now it’s between Ryan Earnest out of Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., and Nick Driscoll of San Marin to battle for the third slot.
Sophomores Jake Novelli (Vanden), Mike Duman (Kelseyville) and Nick Altman (Benicia) are set to lead the charge in the bullpen.
Goals for the season are pretty simple this year.
“Win the conference get to the playoffs and get to that second round,” Stover said. “We’ve been there, so we know what it takes and we think we have the personnel as long as these kids keep looking forward and in the right direction. They’ve done a good job of that so far.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.