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RedHawks win in Lay's debut
Expectations are high for the Colusa High baseball team and its strong core of returning players, bolstered by a few talented additions to the roster and a new coach with a record-setting resume.
The RedHawks (1-0) passed their first test of the season with ease, beating Gridley High 15-3 in their season-opener Tuesday in Colusa.
Lay took over as head coach after Mike West retired at the end of last season, and he inherited a team that lost just three seniors to graduation.
Many of the returning players spent the summer playing for Lay on the Colusa County Channel Cats Junior American Legion team, where they got to know their new coach and played with and against some of the best baseball talent in the north state.
"They've learned that, you've got to work, not just when we're at practice — practice is to fine-tune — but you've got to get swings on your own, get ground balls and do things on your own to make yourself better," Lay said.
The team's growth was immediately apparent as they jumped on the Bulldogs (0-2) early and scored in every inning of the game. The only hiccup came in the top of the 5th inning when three errors handed the Bulldogs three runs.
Two starters, Luke Corriea and Jose Santana, missed the game due to a school field trip, but their absence made little difference.
Colusa reached base with ease all game, collecting 11 hits, 11 walks and two hit batters. Pitchers Hayden Bailey, Ross Cervantes and Kyle Cervantes limited the Bulldogs to three unearned runs on five hits and just one walk.
"We don't have any dominant pitchers but we have five or six guys that can throw strikes and can throw three pitches for strikes," Lay said.
Lay's biggest concern this season is how the team's offense will do against a top of the line pitcher, but against Gridley, the offense enjoyed a big day. Every player in a Colusa uniform reached base at least once.
Kyle Cervantes went 2 for 3 with two walks and four runs out of the No. 2 hole. Batting right behind him, junior third-baseman Chad Elliott went 2 for 3 with an RBI double.
Estevan Frias drove in a run in each of his first four plate appearances. The junior hit a 1st-inning sacrifice fly, cranked a triple in the 2nd, drove in a run on a ground ball in the 3rd and beat out an infield single in the 4th to finish with four RBI's.
Senior catcher Joe Ferrini is one of the players who benefited most from playing on the Channel Cats over the summer, Lay said.
"Joe Ferrini has really grown a ton. I think it was an eye opener, more just the mentality of playing with those guys who have played a lot of baseball. That hey, there are certain things he wasn't doing to make himself better," Lay said.
Ferrini demonstrated his improved plate discipline, walking twice and hitting an RBI single in the 2nd inning.
As the team's catcher, Ferrini sees the improvements the pitching staff has made from last season to this season.
"They're spot on, they're hitting their locations great, and they've increased their velocity. We have them throwing constantly, they've been improving, and improving and improving," he said.
Spending the summer playing against higher levels of competition, and playing on a team with some of the best players from Yuba County, boosted the team's confidence, Ferrini said.
The RedHawks players feel the extra work they put in combined with the strong foundation West built have them in position to contend for the title, which will be difficult in a division loaded with teams such as Durham, Willows and Winters.
"Mr. West is a great coach and it's sad to see him go, I got to be coached by him for three years, but these guys are the perfect people to take his spot," Ferrini said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.