Doug Yates of Cypress College is a hitting and fielding example of just how much a player can improve, given the chance.
Yates is in his second season as a starting infielder at Cypress, something Charger Coach Scott Pickler didn’t expect. Yates played third base last season and hit .331 with 14 doubles, two home runs and 32 RBIs.
This season, Yates has moved to first and is hitting .303 with six doubles, three home runs and 19 RBIs.
That Yates has been such a contributor for two seasons is a surprise, considering his rather slow start in the program.
Yates, who played at El Dorado High School, came to Cypress in the summer of 1987. He was invited to play for the Metro League team that Pickler runs during the summer.
“They asked me to play but it was more like watch,” Yates said with a laugh.
At the end of the summer, Pickler met with Yates, as he does with each player. From Yates’ point of view, the meeting didn’t go well.
“He told me I could maybe get some pinch-hitting and be a bullpen catcher,” Yates said. “It wasn’t very encouraging. I was kind of down for a while, but I decided to stay and work harder.”
Said Pickler: “We told him we weren’t sure where he would be, but that we wanted him around because he was a good kid and worked hard.”
The 1987 winter scrimmages started like the summer’s games, with Yates getting little playing time. But when first baseman Tim Churchill became ill, Yates was moved into the starting lineup and hit well enough to be considered part of Pickler’s long-range plans.
When the ’88 spring season began, it took two games and a twist of fate for Yates to became the starting third baseman. Injuries to a couple of Cypress starters put Yates in the lineup to stay.
Yates continued his success last summer when he again played for Pickler’s Metro League team. Yates, who moved to first base to fill a void, hit .428 with six home runs and was voted the league’s most valuable player.
“We’ve had a lot of players that worked like Doug did,” said Steve Gullotti, who coached Yates at El Dorado. “But no one has ever been as tough as he is mentally.”
Community College Notes
Two of the top three men’s tennis teams in the state will face each other Thursday when Saddleback (9-0) travels to Orange Coast (8-1) for a 2 p.m. match. Saddleback, which won the men’s state title last season, is ranked first in the state this season. Orange Coast is ranked third. . . . Kristin Jacobs is 11-5-1 this season for Fullerton’s softball team, but the pitcher’s record could be better. Fullerton has been shut out in four of Jacobs’ five losses. Jacobs, a sophomore, has 126 strikeouts in 125 2/3 innings and an earned-run average of 0.67. She was 27-4 with an 0.44 ERA last season.