California Pintos baseball is set to return to the diamond this week in their quest for a second-straight district championship. Last season, the Pintos won their first district title in school history by defeating conference rival Eldon 7-5 in the championship game. Now the Pintos are back with a younger team. Traditionally with a younger team comes inexperience, but that hasn't stopped head coach Steven Stock from setting the bar high for this team.
"We're going to try and compete for a conference and district title. We do have three seniors, three juniors, and 14 under-classmen this year. So we're very young and two of those upperclassmen might not play at all due to injury and another on who might not be ready until May. So we've got about seven our nine positions being played by guys who have never played varsity baseball before," Stock said. "With that being said, we'll take what comes. We've got some good young kids and a good sophomore class who have seen some time with varsity and we're going to keep our expectations."
Stock is hopeful the season will be a great learning curve for his players in one of the toughest conferences in the state. California's schedule will be packed with other district-winning teams, including two defending state champions in St. Elizabeth and Southern Boone. Stock said although the road ahead for California will be a long one, he has the players and the support to help to Pintos play for another district title.
"Martin Kilmer threw on the mound for us and played left field last year. We're going to rely on him quite a bit on the mound and be one of our leaders. Will Edwards is also going to be a returning starter. Other than that, we go to most of our young kids for varsity innings," Stock said. "We appreciate all the support that our kids get and we're very fortunate to play for a community that backs up our kids. We expect nothing different this year and we know our parents and patrons are going be loud and we hope they'll help us make great memories for our kids this year."
California's season begins at 5 p.m. Friday night at St. Elizabeth.