BARSTOW • The college baseball season has just begun, but it's off to an encouraging start for the BCC Vikings, who have won their first two games.
The Vikings are coming off a 2012 campaign in which they went 8-28. The squad has a new head coach this year, with Nate Lambdin taking over at the helm. Though he's new to Barstow, Lambdin is a veteran skipper with over two decades of experience. He started his coaching career under the tutelage of the University of Arizona's Andy Lopez, who was voted the 2012 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year. On a more local level, he served as head baseball coach at Victor Valley College from 1993-2004.
The first order of business for the new coach is adding more games to the win column. Lambdin doesn't just want to get the Vikings to .500, he wants them to be a force to be reckoned with in the Foothill Conference. He thinks that's a reachable goal, as early as this season.
"Without a doubt, this is the hardest-working and most talented community college team I have ever coached," said Lambdin just before the season began. "Our student-athletes have exemplified a tremendous work ethic on and off the field. We take pride in academic performance, as well as athletics."
Returning are some of last year's impact players, led by slugger James Carraway. Carraway, who was a first team All-Foothill Conference player last year and this time around is a preseason All-American selection, has already proven himself valuable. In the two Vikings wins, the sophomore is batting .500 with a double, triple, three RBI, two stolen bases and five runs scored.
"James has been a leader on and off the field for us," Lambdin said. "He possesses excellent power at the plate, tracks the ball well in the outfield, and has tremendous arm strength. Essentially he is a four-tool player. To be recognized as a preseason All-American is quite an honor."
Carraway will be joined in the outfield by former Colorado State Player of the Year Peter Lelich, and All-Foothill Conference selection Gabriel Soto. Soto has already hit the first Vikings home run of the season, while Lelich has a double, stolen base and two RBI in the two games played.
Adding to the depth in the outfield is Sultana grad Marcos Sanchez, an All-MRL selection, and Los Osos High School product Michael McNicholl. Additionally, Silver Valley grad Joshua Hendley will see action in the outfield, as well as on the mound. The freshman is a 2012 All-League player and was voted the Spartans' team MVP.
The Vikings infield will include sophomore Alex Pollard at first base. Pollard, a transfer from Mt. SAC, will be backed up by Victor Valley grad Santino Bajarano. At second base, returner Robert Loerwald and freshman Joshua Gray will battle for the starting role.
The shortstop spot is still up for grabs between Concordia University transfer Treyson Park and Victor Valley grad Michael Martinez. Over at third base, sophomore Kris Soto looks to be the starter. Soto will also serve as a relief pitcher and has quickly gotten noticed, picking up saves in both wins, allowing two hits and no runs over two innings, walking none and striking out four. When Soto is on the mound, Bajarano will man the hot corner.
The Vikings have nice depth at the position of catcher, with two receivers returning, Jayson Henderson and Travis Pullen. Henderson has the edge after a successful freshman season where he was given an All-Foothill Conference honorable mention. Freshman Dante Chavez will also see action behind the plate.
On the mound, sophomores Josh King, Mark Marinch and brothers Kris and Gabriel Soto will compete for starting spots in the Vikings' three-man rotation. Newcomer Manny Rodriguez, a CIF selection from Apple Valley High School, will come out of the bullpen along with freshmen Ray Hisquirdo, Braiden Phillips, Bajarano, Sanchez, and Hendley.
The Vikings will look to keep their perfect record intact this weekend, as they take part in the Taft Tournament. They'll be at Compton College on Wednesday, and will be back home next Friday, taking on Irvine Valley for a 2 p.m. start.