By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
Last season was one of those “knock on the door” years for the San Benito Greyhounds baseball team.
This year, they’re looking to kick it in completely.
The ‘Hounds finished 12-11 overall and 7-9 in 31-5A, good for fifth in the district and just out of the playoffs. Now, they’re jumping back to familiar waters and competing with lower-Valley schools in 32-6A and veteran skipper Ram Partida is looking for big things from his club in 2015.
“We’re looking to have a better season than last year; it’s the same group of kids from last year’s squad. They have been working extremely hard this summer and the offseason to prepare for this year,” Partida said. “Our goal this year is to make the playoffs.
I’m real excited on how the kids have dedicated their time and effort to baseball. So if this is any indication on what time of season we will have … well, it’s going to be great year for the Greyhound baseball team.”
Seven lettermen return for the ’Hounds in their quest to return to the playoffs for the first time in a handful of seasons.
Among those back on the diamond for San Benito are SS/P Ismael “J.R.” Gaitan, an all-district selection a year ago. Also back for the Greyhounds are Victor Gaitan (CF), Ruben Reyes (LF/C), Chris Padilla (DH/3B), Joseph Partida (1B), Erick Arizpe (SS/P), Jerry Degaldo (P) Alfonso Mireles (3b/P) Isaac Sanchez (RF/3B), David Vargas (C/2B). Pitcher Mando Medrano, who’s expected to be a factor as well, is currently sidelined with an injury but is expected back. Alvaro Vargas remains injured and is working hard as well.
With so many arms at his disposal, Partida said he’ll look to keep games under control with good pitching and some timely offense.
“We feel this year factor will be our pitching and our offense,” Partida said. “We need to continue to work hard on our pitching and hitting.”
Partida also said a new workout regime instituted in the offseason is hoping to reap plenty of benefits on the diamond this season.
“In the weight room we have implemented a strength program into our baseball program,” Partida said. “We are in the weight room three times a week. We feel that will help us to get stronger and prevent injuries. (Assistant) Coach (Jimmy) Young does a great job in the weight room with our kids.”
While 31-5A was certainly a hotbed for baseball talent and made for some tough games the past two years, San Benito’s new slate doesn’t get any easier. 32-6A is expected to be just as competitive. Brownsville Veterans and Hanna, Los Fresnos and both Harlingen schools will figure into the mix and if all goes well, the Greyhounds as well.
“It’s going to be a tough district this year,” Partida said. “We have great teams with great coaches in our district.”
All in all, Partida said the anticipation and enthusiasm for baseball has grown the past couple of years and he and the boys are hoping to give the community a playoff season to reward them for their loyalty and support.
“We thank all the administration, coaches, and especially the parents for the support they give to the Greyhound baseball team and to the coaches,” Partida said. “Because of this support we will continue to strive for a great baseball season.”
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