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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

Aggies’ baseball 2022 season preview

The Aggies’ rough start to the season spurs hope for team

By GABRIEL CARABALLO — sports@theaggie.org


Despite an 0-4 record to start their campaign, three losses by the hand of Saint Mary’s team and the most recent by the hand of the University of San Francisco with an average deficit of 3.5 runs, the coaches and players of the UC Davis Baseball team will continue to keep their heads up for the remainder of the season. 

This is a young team of ball players with a new head coach, as the Aggies recently hired Tommy Nicholson, who was formerly the coach of Stanford’s baseball team. An investigation into the baseball program in the second half of 2021 found violations of hazing and a culture of drinking within the program and eventually led to the resignation of previous head coach Matt Vaughn after 10 years. Nicholson was introduced on Dec. 16, 2021. 

“Tommy has brought a standard for us,” senior infielder Kyler Arenado said. ”He wants us to have good comradery, pick each other up, never keep your heads down and keep that head up… that’s the mindset he’s brought to us.”  

Arenado has played all four years at Davis and has faith in the culture Coach Nicholson has brought with him. The slow start shows that there are going to be “growing pains” with a young team and a new coach. 

“We’re a really young team so we got a lot of growing to do, but all our young guys look great. I think they’re going to be great ball players,” Arenado said. 

Arenado and the team are confident in the young players. They believe in the offense and think pitching is one of their strengths. Coach Nicholson has seen some signs of potential that they hope can contribute to winning in the long run.

“I think we’ve played real good defense on the infield and we play hard,” Nicholson said. “We’re doing a good job of staying locked in pitch to pitch… if we’re going to make mistakes we’re going to be aggressive.” 

They are hoping these strengths will manifest wins later in the season, but there is always work to be done according to Nicholson and Arenado. A common trend for the Aggies these past few games were landing base hits but failing to capitalize on runs. 

“The difference in the game is that [opposing teams have] been getting those clutch hits, we haven’t. In every game we’ve played they’ve had one big inning,” Arenado said. 

However, the players aren’t the only ones to have noticed this pattern. Coach Nicholson shared his insight as well.

“We haven’t been able to come through with the runners in scoring position and get a hit for whatever reason; sometimes it just takes a guy at bat to come through,” Coach Nicholson said, regarding that weakness for the team. 

The players and coach understand this trend and hope it fades with time and hard work. However, this has not deterred Coach Nicholson and the team from learning from their mistakes and staying positive. Nicholson emphasized the learning process of baseball and what that means for the team.

“It’s important to understand that it is about learning and in these times of struggles or mistakes that we’re making, if we learn from them, we right those wrongs, down the line we’re going to be a better team and learn how to win,” Nicholson said. 

Nicholson brings this philosophy to the team, knowing that the benefit is winning. Learning from mistakes and keeping their heads high will allow the team to maintain their confidence despite losing. There will be a slight break for the players until they play Saint Mary’s on March 1. This gives the team time to put in some hard work and prepare for the ball game. 

UC Davis was projected as 11th in the Big West Conference Preseason Coaches Poll after finishing in 11th last season. They will face their first Big West opponent in a three game series from March 18 to 20 when they travel to play UC Irvine — a team ranked second in the poll. They then play host the following week against UC Santa Barbara, the third ranked team in the poll. 

On April 26, they will host San Jose State, and the following week, they will travel to play Stanford in their first matchup since 2019. They will not play the projected number one seed, Long Beach State, until the final series of the season. Throughout the year, they will play no more than four straight-away games, so the toll of being on the road will not be as high. 

The players play hard, remain optimistic and are confident in themselves. There is no doubt this will be an exciting season of baseball. 

“I believe when conference [play] comes around it’ll be a turnaround… You know we’re a young team but a good team,” Arenado said after the game.


Written by: Gabriel Caraballo — sports@theaggie.org



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