Century falls to Grant in season-opener, but excited to be back
On the heels of a 5-13 2021 campaign, one that that left everyone discombobulated as a result of complications revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic, Century head coach Mason Wright is excited for the 2022 Jaguars season.
Wright's anticipation is not just because of the opportunity for a somewhat "normal" experience, but more for the simple chance to do what it is the Jaguars love to do — play baseball.
"It's always nice to get back on the field, but it was also really beneficial for us to work with our program in the off-season as well," Wright said. "The past few years were a challenge, but they're behind us now and we're all very thankful to be on the diamond again."
The Jags opened their season with an 8-0 loss to No. 5-ranked Grant last Friday, March 18, but Wright said he was mostly happy with what he saw from his squad in what was in many of his players' cases their first real varsity experience.
"We were pleased overall with the effort, focus and positivity from our group," the coach said. "A few first-time varsity jitters from our young guys, but they were very excited to compete."
One of those "young guys" is sophomore pitcher Eli Breault, who started the game versus Grant and whom Wright said will anchor Century's pitching rotation.
Others the coach mentioned were sophomore catcher Sergio Osoria; fellow sophomore Levi Hazes, whom Wright said is a natural leader and competitor with a high baseball IQ; and freshman utility man Sawyer Hewett, who plays infield, pitches and catches at times.
"He (Hewett) has a very bright future for a young developing player in our program," Wright said.
They're not all young, though. Wright also spoke to a group of talented returning leaders as well, including all-league players Niko Rosell and Sam Thomas, along with senior reliever Brayden Miller, who is formidable at the plate while at the same time a staple out of the Jaguars' bullpen.
The coach said it's that mix of young and more experienced talent that will be one of Century's biggest strengths as the year progresses.
"We have a nice blend of core seniors as well as a very talented sophomore group," Wright said. "It's honestly a really fun blend of returners and new guys that makes this squad a ton of fun to work with. Lots of opportunities to grow as a team."
That mix, he believes, has helped build great team chemistry early on, and that chemistry —a long with its competitiveness, versatility and mental toughness — are Century's best assets. But while excited for what that could come, he also understands that there will be some bumps along the road to where they hope to go.
"We need to continue to develop a high level of expectations of ourselves and each other," Wright said. "Many of our new players are adjusting to the speed of a varsity game, so there'll be a learning curve."And where will that curve take them? Obviously, that's yet to be determined. Nonetheless, Wright hopes it will be at or near the top of the Pacific Conference standings, along with a spot in the postseason.
"Our league should have a nice balance," he said. "I have a tremendous respect for my fellow coaches and look forward to a tight race. We are aiming for a top-three seed and a playoff appearance."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.