Steve Coots is feeling a bit like a political campaigner these days. Over the past week, the Glendale College baseball coach and his team have logged more than 700 miles.
As of Tuesday, the Vaqueros had played seven games in as many days trying to make up rain-outs from the beginning of the season. Glendale is 5-5 and, even though the Vaqueros are fatigued, most of the their errors concern misread maps and the only cutoffs they've missed were the ones on the freeway.
"We have created a few different ways to get to places," quipped Coots, who says his schedule has never been so cramped in 12 seasons at Glendale.
Though the Vaqueros' commitments will soon ease, the team's harried pace continues at 10 a.m. today against San Bernardino in the San Bernardino tournament.
Coots says the onslaught of games has brought the Vaqueros closer, adding that the team, which is composed of five returnees players and 18 first-year players, has matured quickly.
"This group has shown that they are going to take on adversity much better than they did last year," Coots said. "Last year, if we got bad officiating we just kind of hung it up.
"Last weekend we got bad officiating all the way through and we didn't give up. We just kept fighting."
Glendale's forte is bat strength. Left fielder Marco Asselin had hits in each of the Vaqueros' first nine games, shortstop Paul Hugassian hit three home runs in the first four games and center fielder John Bojanac has had two three-hit games, including two home runs in the opener.
Sophomore Tom Ball will start at catcher. Coots plans to allow Ball to call the pitches, instead of making the calls himself.
Freshman Mike Peterson (2-1), a starter, might have the team's best fastball, while Jaime Aguayo, also a starter, relies on a more controlled style.
Brad Blackmore, John Wortham, John Alaimo and Mike Larsen are vying for the third slot in the rotation.
Coots says that reliever Steve Dempsey might be "as good a closer as we've ever had." Backup catcher Aldo Angrisani will pitch long relief.
Right fielder Jeff Ojeda teams with Asselin and Bojanac in the outfield while first baseman Art Chute, second baseman Kiko Garcia and third baseman Dave Weckerle--probably the Vaqueros' best defensive player--join Hugassian on the infield.
Darron McWhorter will be the designated-hitter.
Coots says the team has looked brilliant at times. And at times it has looked brainless.
One of the shining moments came against Riverside in the final game of the Riverside tournament.
Glendale held a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning but Riverside had men at the corners with no outs.
Dempsey pitched the Vaqueros out of the jam for the victory.
"I think that game gave the whole group the confidence that we can win when it's close," Coots said.
Some of their losses have not been close, however. Glendale fell to Saddleback, 9-4, Monday and to El Camino, 13-3, earlier.
"We just can't let the fatigue get to us," Coots said.