Cracker Jack’s, nacho’s, Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and the sound of cleats in a dugout can only mean one thing: Baseball season is back.
As defending champions, the Sonoma State University Seawolves are preparing themselves for what many hope to be another winning season. However, the Seawolves were picked to finish fourth in the 2015 season.
Why is that? Maybe it’s because 17 players graduated, and among the 17 were the starting second basemen, starting third basemen, and No. 1 pitcher. Despite the roster changes, the Seawolves are back and are ready to defend their California Collegiate Athletic Association title.
When asked about his thoughts on being picked fourth, outfielder, Daniel Caresao, said “It motivated us more.”
“I laughed, I thought it was funny,” said first baseman Alex Crosby.
Sonoma State has won 10 league championships, been to the Western Region Tournament 13 times, as well as two College World Series appearances. In other words, they have shown both the skill and determination to win it all. This is exactly what they want: to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Baseball Championships in Cary, North Carolina.
As the team heads into the 2015 season with the end goal of winning the championship, motivation alone wont get these boys there, but coming together as a team and working hard on the field everyday will.
“We have a pretty well-rounded team this year, we have a pretty good defensive team this year, and our pitching is deeper throughout the rotation,” said Head Coach John Goelz.
Coach Goelz knows what he’s talking about, with 37 years of coaching baseball. He started in 1977 at his alma mater San Francisco State and has been at the helm of Sonoma State Baseball since 1985.
“We work a lot harder and the guys are a lot closer,” said Crosby. “I feel like knowing that they ranked us fourth it helps us and motivates us a lot more to be in that first seed, because they won’t expect it, but that is what we are all expecting.”
It’s developing the talent that coaches enjoy so much. “We are really team oriented,” said Goelz, “It comes down to team chemistry, for the most part I think our players like each other a lot.”
Sometimes team chemistry can get a little thrown off. “Sticking as one team, as one unit. We all pull on the same rope, all on the same side,” said Caresao, “We are going to be very good this year, we have a lot of talent.” With 18 new additions to the team, new talent is definitely something the Seawolves have.
When that happens a game can become a tough obstacle to overcome. “You just play your best that game, and try to forget the last game and try not to go beyond the next game,” said Goelz.
This season does not just hold an opportunity for championship title. It also holds the chance for Coach Goelz to reach 1,000 victories on the diamond.
“It’s very humbling to approach this mark. It’s not about me, as we get closer and closer to it, it’s more about all the people that made this possible, for one coach to be here long enough to reach 1,000 wins,” Goelz said.
“All the players that [gave] their blood, sweat and tears, the program, it’s a good thing for them. I have great assistant coaches, players and for me to take credit for 1,000 wins is awfully arrogant, because that’s not the way it works.”
As humble as he is, Goelz may say it’s about the players’ efforts on the field that make the 1,000 victories possible. Players play the game. But no individual achieves success alone. Everyone needs coaches, mentors and teachers to push us through, to be honest in order to get every bit of talent to achieve success.
The Seawolves are fortunate to have Goelz coaching the baseball team for 30 years, challenging every player who puts on cleats to be their very best every day.