The high school baseball season is already underway—well sort of. With the inclement weather in the region, the start of the season has been mostly rained out. When the weather starts to cooperate, our local teams all have high expectations, despite two of the three having new head coaches.
Both the Santa Clara Bruins and Fremont Firebirds have new head honchos this season. That said, they are both familiar new faces to their programs. Pete Hernandez takes over as Firebirds’ Head Coach. Hernandez is not only a Fremont alumnus himself, class of 2000, but he previously coached the Firebirds from 2011-2013.
The Bruins have long-time varsity assistant and JV coach Pedro Martinez taking over varsity this year.
Each coach inherits a team coming off solid performances in 2022. Santa Clara performed admirably in the upper De Anza Division, going 6-8 in league and 17-13 overall. Senior ace Jayce Dobie led the Bruins to a playoff win 3-1 over Mountain View in the De Anza League tournament. Santa Clara graduated most of their starters last year though, as the only returner this season from the starting lineup is Orlando Lewis.
Fremont also finished above .500 overall at 14-12 and went 8-7 in the El Camino League. Coach Hernandez has key starters in Makaio Mullins, Patrick Bartido and Tyler Gray returning this season.
Fremont and Santa Clara are both looking to qualify for the CCS playoffs.
“Before the season started our expectations were lower than last season, but we raised the bar at our goal-setting meeting after some great games against Carlmont and Live Oak when we went 1-1 against them,” acknowledged coach Martinez. “They were both in the open division last year and won their respective A leagues.”
“We are setting expectations pretty high,” admitted coach Hernandez. “Our goal is to win league and to go to CCS.”
There is a good chance all three schools will indeed qualify for the CCS playoffs. The surest bet to get there though is Wilcox, who is coming off another strong season. Like the Bruins, Wilcox featured a dominant senior ace last season in Jesse Gutierrez. The Chargers lost a heart-breaking 3-2 final in their second round CCS game last year.
With a fresh new campaign, the Chargers will be looking to returners like Patrick Sanchez and Matthew Tiendas among others to continue the long-standing tradition of playoff baseball at Wilcox. Head Coach Matthew Huth is still confident despite a younger and smaller squad in 2023.
“The optimism for the team this year is still really high. The talent level is really solid,” noted Huth. “So, we are definitely still optimistic for another good year.”
Wilcox will have to overcome some early season injuries though as they have already been hit by the injury bug in the early portion of the season. The Chargers will eventually open up league play on March 22 at Homestead. Santa Clara begins league play against Los Altos the same afternoon. Fremont, meanwhile, will open up on March 16 against Monta Vista.