The Southern California College baseball program seems to have pulled itself out of the doldrums.
For several seasons, the Vanguards weren’t much of an opponent. Ila Borders made history by becoming the first woman to win a college baseball game in 1994, but SCC didn’t have many other noteworthy performances.
Last season, SCC was 12-34 and failed to make postseason play for the third consecutive year.
But the 1997 Vanguards are showing signs of life. SCC is 18-8 and started the week tied for first place in the Golden State Athletic Conference.
“It’s a big turnaround to go from 12 wins last season,” SCC Coach Kevin Kasper said. “It makes things a little more fun. Actually, it makes it a lot more fun.”
Last season, Kasper’s first as coach, was difficult to say the least. Kasper was hired during the summer of 1995 and wasn’t able to do much recruiting. A young Vanguard team had losing streaks of six, six, five and four games.
This year, Kasper has blended the best players from last year’s team with a host of talented newcomers. The results were almost immediate: the Vanguards won seven of their first 10 games.
Two of those victories were over Point Loma Nazarene in a doubleheader to begin conference play. That’s especially notable because SCC stopped a 13-game losing streak against Point Loma.
“We swept them and I think that gave us a lot of confidence,” Kasper said. “We were really rolling from there.”
SCC has been sparked by a pitching staff that has kept it in games and a lineup that is hard to shut down. The first seven in the Vanguard lineup are batting better than .300, led by Kevin Moore, a transfer from Long Beach State who is hitting better than .400.
SCC (8-4 in the GSAC) was tied for first place with Cal Baptist until Cal Baptist’s 5-1 victory over the Vanguards Tuesday at SCC.
The Vanguards had their problems in the game, giving up four runs (three unearned) in the fifth inning and leaving 13 runners on base. But they went down fighting--with the bases loaded in the ninth. “That’s one thing I like about this team that we didn’t have last season,” Kasper said.
SCC plays at Biola in a GSAC doubleheader Saturday.
“We’ve still got a ways to go before we can even start talking about winning the conference title,” Kasper said. “But I like the position we are in. We’ve seen everyone play and we know we can compete with them.”