Leadership switch inspires resurgence

Baseball team threads three-game winning streak, earns half of last season's wins before conference

By Xavier Johnson, Staff Writer

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The addition of six freshmen players and a new coach has injected renewed energy into the baseball team to inspire an undefeated run three games into the 2016 baseball season.

Contra Costa College’s season last spring marked the end of coach Marvin Webb’s CCC career. Webb’s squad ended its season with a 6-29 record and nine straight losses.

After the team’s late season losing skid, Athletic Director John Wade relieved coach Webb of his duties and hired assistant coach Brian Guinn as the new coach.

Under Webb, the Comet baseball team had not had a winning season in the last 15 years.

The lone bright spot for the 2015 season was a third place finish in stolen bases in the Bay Valley Conference.

Although Guinn had a seat next to Webb in the dugout last season, the coach did not infringe on Webb’s philosophy toward the game.

Players on the squad last year knew the newly hired assistant had knowledge of what it takes to get players to reach their full potential.

The coach has played baseball for the Oakland A’s organization and runs a private player development company.

Guinn brought in a new coaching staff along with him. He said he wanted to start fresh in an effort to breed a new culture into the team.

Shortly after his arrival, Guinn implemented a strength and conditioning program that saw baseball players flooding the weight room and running bleachers with all members of the team committed to the culture shift.

The baseball team opened up the 2016 season with a start that contrasts with the early season performance in 2015. The Comets opened last season with a 0-3 record. This year, three games into non-conference play CCC came out of the gate running with a three-game winning streak.

The Comets beat City College of San Francisco 5-2 on Feb. 2 and 6-2 on Thursday. The squad then shut out Mission College 2-0 at the Baseball Field on Saturday.

Last season the Comets only won one pair of back-to-back games, that being a two-game home and away series against Laney College, nearly one year ago.

The Comets continued their non-conference schedule on Tuesday after press time, traveling to Mission College in Santa Clara.

Athletic Director John Wade said there’s a lot of excitement about the baseball team this season. A lot of things are still up in the air because this is a new situation, but the excitement is there, Wade said.

As the team was whittled down by Guinn and the coaching staff, the dramatic fall off in the size of the team that occurred last year was noticeably absent.

Comet sophomore pitcher Allen Ressler said there is a lot of energy being tossed around during practices. He said last year it was hard to get good practices in because the roster lost players due to injury or academic ineligibility.

This year the team has a good spirit, most importantly from the incoming freshman, Ressler said.

With the season underway, complete BVC stats are not readily available. New players for CCC are already setting the pace for the type of season they expect to have this year.

Jamal Rutledge is batting .600 in 10 at bats and outfielder Darrick Parnell is batting .833 with six at bats.

Ressler also pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, with two stolen bases, leading the Comets to their third win in a row in his first outing of the season

“The new guys on the team come to every practice ready to work hard,” he said. “The practices are more organized and the new coaches help each player get specialized attention. It’s really helpful.”

After visiting Sierra College in Rocklin on Thursday, the Comets will host three straight games beginning Saturday against De Anza College at 1 p.m.

They host Santa Rosa Junior College Tuesday and City College of San Francisco on Thursday. Both games are set to begin at 2 p.m.

CCC will begin BVC play March 1 at Napa Valley College at 2 p.m.