Cody Casares / The Advocate
Even though the Comets didn’t make the playoffs this year, they did win twice as many games as last year, putting their wins in the double-digit column and proving they can only go up from here under new skipper Brian Guinn.
Contra Costa College finished the season in sixth place in the Bay Valley Conference, surpassing last year’s six-win benchmark by mid- March, and earning an overall team batting average of .258, behind power hitter Evan Ray.
Ray, who sat out last season due to an injury, did play for the squad in 2014, but performed significantly better during the 2016 season.
“All my numbers were better than they were in 2014,” Ray said. “I got better because of the time and practice I put in over the off season. This season I wanted to be prepared, so I put in countless hours.”
One improvement he made was increasing his batting average from a mere .268 in 2014 to a respectable .317 in the 2016 campaign.
Ray put up some impressive numbers with a .385 on base percentage and a .512 slugging percentage, and was responsible for hammering nearly one-third of the team’s home runs.
One of the differences between this year and last was that CCC was able to get hits when the team needed them, especially with runners in scoring position.
“Every time I went to the plate I knew something good was going to happen, due to my confidence. I knew if I put the ball in play something good was going to happen,” freshman infielder John Velasco said.
Additionally, Velasco led the team in RBIs with 23 this season. But even then, Velasco wasn’t satisfied.
“I started off in a slump, talked to the coaches, and finally put up some numbers. It wasn’t until I just went out there and started to have fun that I started doing well,” Velasco said.
The Comets finished their season with a record of 12-22 overall, 8-16 in the Bay Valley Conference. The Comets’ improvement can also be attributed to its bullpen and to Antonio Straughter, who ended his Comet career with a 2.38 ERA.
It also helped that the team had many more pitchers than it did last year, so they could go deeper into the bullpen if needed.
“We had more guys (pitchers) this year. I think we had eight or nine, compared to three or four last year,” baseball coach Brian Guinn said.
Guinn clearly outlined his plan for the entire season. “We just wanted to be a competitive program and in 80 percent of our games, we had the opportunity to win,” Guinn said. “All we wanted to do was put ourselves in position to win.”
With the exception of Ray and a few others, most of CCC’s squad will be returning for next season.
However, when it comes to reflecting on the season, there’s still room to grow.
“I think I could have prepared the kids a little better. One of my pet peeves is preparation. One of my successes, was that the kids learned how to compete well, very well,” Guinn said.
“I feel like there’s a rejuvenated energy with Brian Guinn coaching. Coach B actually took some time and effort, to where we could get our reps in, and we became better ball players. Last year it wasn’t really organized and we couldn’t get all our reps in,” Velasco said.