Interviews from the dugout: Gauchos baseball team plans to win


GLENDALE, Ariz. – Despite last year’s attempt at reaching the Junior College World Series in Oklahoma, in a gut-wrenching loss, the Gauchos Baseball team did not achieve their goal of victory.

They tallied a season record of 19-19 in conference and an overall record of 25-27.

According to Coach Ed Trujillo, expectations are “the same and higher” this year.

“My second, and third-year guys all know what victory tastes like now,” Coach Trujillo said.

He says his expectations have trickled down to his players who have been practicing since early August, and the offseason has shown improvements in all his players.

According to some of the tenured players, the recruitment has proved to fix the small holes that held them back in previous years.

“We look good this year,” said Jacob Hapner, a second-year pitcher for the Gauchos. Training has been rigorous for these players, as they undergo four practices a week, diligently keeping tabs on their recovering bodies in the trainer’s room.

“The recovery training has been very helpful,” said Ryan Zuniga, a first-year pitcher.

Sometimes, individuals do not understand the toll baseball takes on the body. Ryan Zuniga broke down his daily routine in the offseason.

“My main goal was to gain weight this offseason. In high school I was always a skinnier kid and wanted to put some bulk on so I could throw harder,” Zuniga said.

He says he’s gained 30 pounds lately, which he refers to as his “velo pouch.”

Pitcher Jacob Hapner also discussed his routine, which focused on “cleaning up his mechanics.” Pitching, to him, is comparable to art, and mechanics are the brushstrokes to his canvas.

“Having good mechanics is just as important if not more important than being strong and athletic,” Hapner said.

What is important for the players is to get along with one another. Last year, even with COVID-19 restrictions, the players were still able to get to know each other, and gain an appreciation for their different backgrounds.

“This sport is about the team first. Yes, it is nice to be able to succeed on your own accomplishments, but the difference is in how the game is played. I’d rather win or lose as a team rather than win by myself. The amount of hours we put into making ourselves and each other better only resonates in how we play this game,” Hapner said.

The team has assembled themselves quite a crew of players who they consider beyond teammates, but family. They plan to win it all this year. Not just for themselves, but also for the man leading the way, Coach Trujillo.