Baseball underway

Sam L. Jaime, Sports Editor

The 2017 season has arrived for the Bakersfield College Renegades. Preparation for the season opener against Ventura meant adding another variable to the team’s practice schedule, as rain in prior days forced players to focus on maintaining the field.

The team combatted the soggy conditions, packing dry dirt behind home plate, throughout the infield and along baselines before taking the field for practice.

Players seemed unfazed by the extra workload, maintaining chatter throughout.

“They are all unique, they are all different, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how we’ve managed to handle bad weather since we’ve come back,” head coach Tim Painton said. “These guys are a blue-collar group that will work, and when you have that kind of group, I think good things can happen.”

This roster, comprised of 14 sophomores and 26 freshmen, will be challenged from the early stages of scheduled play.

“We probably have the best non-conference schedule in the state of California,” Painton said. “We’ve done that intentionally; you play good people, or you don’t get better.”

That schedule opened on Jan. 27 against Ventura, a team Painton considers to have “perhaps the best pitching in the state” and continued on Jan. 28 against Fullerton, which last year had “among the best programs in the state.”

Win or lose, Painton looks at the long-term aspect of the season.

“Nobody’s going to go 400. All we look at is trying to improve and get better, each time out, and see where it takes us,” he said. “You find out your strengths and weaknesses right away. Everyone wants to win, but for us it’s more about growth throughout the season.”