“The Road to Rawhide” starts now for the Minarets Mustangs baseball team. Coach Jesse Darrah is already preparing his baseball team for another run at a sectional title. The Mustangs finished one game shy of a trip to Visalia’s Rawhide Stadium where the CIF Sectional Championships are played. Minarets was eliminated in the semifinal round, and the Mustangs are using that experience as motivation for next season.
Darrah is working with new football coach Becher Marr to make practices and summer games easy for athletes playing both sports to attend while not interfering with conditioning and team workouts in football. With an enrollment of 450, many athletes are multi-sport players and juggling practice schedules and games can be challenging.
The Mustangs opened the summer season recently traveling to Dinuba to take on the Emperors. Dinuba is coming off a 17-11-1 season, earning the No. 2 seed in the D-III Championships. After receiving a first round bye the Emperors lost to Ridgeview 11-2 in the second round.
The Mustangs dominated from the first pitch, although teams generally do not keep score in summer ball with the focus on development instead of winning. In this case the Mustangs developed sore legs as the bats came alive in the game.
Senior Hunter Thompson started and limited Dinuba to two runs over four innings of work. Sophomore Blake DeMaria relieved and was just as effective on the mound, giving up just one run in four innings.
In the second half of the double header, the Mustangs faced the Lindsay Cardinals, who are coming off a 16-13 season, earning a No. 3 seed for playoffs. They advanced to the semifinals, losing 5-4 to Kern Valley. Minarets again flexed some muscle, and dominated the Cardinals throughout the contest.
In a long-awaited matchup six years in the making, Minarets hosted Yosemite last Saturday in a 10 inning game.
Again, these summer games focus on development and not the final outcome. Although the ‘official’ score is not kept, both teams looked well balanced as they played a see-saw game with the ending in favor of YHS. Both teams showed very good defensive skills along with speed and hitting. If this game was any indication, both Minarets and Yosemite should enjoy good seasons next year.
Many of the athletes playing against each other were teammates in Little League or Babe Ruth.