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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaCalifornia Pintos baseball players warm up during practice March 4. The team’s jamboree is at 4 p.m. March 16 at California.

The California Pintos will have a young baseball team take the field this season.

After dealing with last year’s season being canceled due to COVID-19 and playing a couple of games during the summer, head coach Steven Stock said the team has essentially had two freshmen classes entering this season.

“Although we saw our sophomores a little bit in the summer, we basically have a freshman and sophomore class that we don’t know a lot about yet,” Stock said. “We are in the process of figuring out those kids and where they are going to be and at what level they are going to help us at.”

The team has only two seniors this year. Stock said the team is going to have to rely on its young players, which will take some time. With the Pintos fielding such a young team, Stock said the early parts of the season will serve as a time during which they’ll have to find who their pitchers will be. As the season wears on, Stock said, pitching and defense will be some of the keys for the team.

“We have to find some young kids that can throw the ball over the plate,” Stock said. “That, of course, is a big key, throwing the ball over the plate and throwing strikes. Then, of course, we have to field it defensively.”

When the Pintos are at the plate, Stock said he thinks the team has some players that can hit the ball well.

As the season goes along, Stock said he would like to see the Pintos first set that defensive foundation, with pitchers being able to go on the mound and give the team a chance and the defense to making outs when given the chance. Then, when the team hits the middle part of the season, Stock said he would like to narrow it down to who is on the varsity team and the team’s top five or six throwers.

“Then, hopefully fine tune it from there and finish the season strong,” Stock said.

There might be some learning curves for the Pintos this season; Stock said he is telling the players to be prepared for that.

“Baseball is a game that is really easy. The problem with baseball comes when players come out and make it complex,” Stock said. “We are trying to convince them of three things: throw the ball over the plate; get the outs that your opponent gives you, if they hit the ball to you, get the out when given the opportunity; and at the plate, put the ball in play. If you do those three things, everything else takes care of itself in this game.”

Even with the team being pretty young, Stock said like always, the team has goals of competing for a conference and district title. But, Stock said, those goals could change depending on how he evaluates the team weeks from now.

“But we are going to try to finish top of our conference and win districts; it is kind of an every year thing,” Stock said.

The Pintos open the season at their jamboree at 4 p.m. March 16 at California.

California Pintos baseball schedule:

March 16 - 4 p.m. jamboree at California

March 19 - 5 p.m. at St. Elizabeth

March 22 - 5 p.m. at Eugene

March 25 - 5 p.m. vs. Cole Camp

March 27 - 11 a.m. vs. Mexico and Eldon

March 29 - 5 p.m. at Russellville

April 1 - 5 p.m. at South Callaway

April 6 - 5 p.m. vs. Hallsville

April 8 - 5 p.m. vs. Crocker

April 12 - 5 p.m. at Versailles

April 13 - 5 p.m. vs. Jamestown

April 15 - 5 p.m. at Osage

April 16-18 - TBA at Calvary Lutheran and New Bloomfield Tournament

April 19 - 5 p.m. at Eldon

April 20 - 5 p.m. vs. Harrisburg

April 23-25 - TBA at California and Versailles Tournament

April 27 - 5 p.m. vs. Southern Boone

May 1-2 - TBA, bonus game at Centralia

May 4 - 5 p.m. vs. Boonville

May 6 - 4:30 p.m. at Knob Noster

May 10 - 5 p.m vs. Blair Oaks

May 16-17 - TBA at Class 3 District 8 District Tournament

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