Jason Hisey, Pima baseball’s head coach, didn’t need to say much.
Why did the team finish 25-29-1 last year, its first losing season since 2010?
“Well,” he said, “we just were not very good offensively.
Simple, and true.
The Aztecs finished 12th in the ACCAC in runs scored, tied for 10th in home runs, tied for 11th in RBI and last in stolen bases.
“We lost a lot of games where we didn’t score a lot of runs,” Hisey said. “We had pretty good pitching, decent defense. Our offense was just pretty poor.”
In fact, in 19 of their 29 losses, the Aztecs scored two or less runs.
This year, though, things should be different.
Discounting Pima’s first four games last week, where they went 1-3 against Paradise Valley CC, Hisey is “cautiously optimisitic.”
“We can play better than we played this weekend,” he said. “We brought some good hitters in, we have the ability to match up a little bit better. We have some more left-handed hitters then we’ve had in the past, but I just think overall I feel better about this group offensively than I did with last year’s group.”
He highlighted a couple of returners — catcher Juan Gamez and first baseman Cooper Smith — but seemed particularly excited about some transfers, plus redshirt sophomore outfielder Kellen Marruffo.
There’s third baseman Dan Kennon, a transfer from Seminole State College of Florida, where he batted .283 last year. Also new are outfielder Steven Still (Ironwood Ridge), who recently played at Southeast Missouri, and outfielder James Lynch, from Glendale CC.
“We always like getting those transfer kids,” Hisey said. “The more years a kid’s been in college, usually the better he is. Usually more mature, typically has some experience that lends them to being able to handle adversity.”
Monday, the Star spoke with Hisey about Pima’s 2014 season. The Aztecs will be in Hermosillo, Sonora, this weekend to play games against college-level teams on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
What are your expectations for the team this season?
A: “I don’t know, it’s a very tough league. Usually it all comes down to the last couple of weeks, and hopefully we can put ourselves in position to have something to play for at the end of April.”
You lost a few sophomore pitchers from last year, what are you expecting out of this year’s staff?
A: “So far we’ve been really encouraged by our young pitchers. We have four quality starters right now and I think our staff is led by Cole Plouck (Empire). We have Scotty Watson (Empire), who is another sophomore, and then the two freshmen are really good. Both of those kids threw really well this weekend.
What do those two freshmen — Marcel Renteria (Nogales) and Chris Kucko (Sahuarita) — bring to the table?
A: “Each of them have three pitches for strikes and they’re in the strike zone. I mean, they have good velocity and they hold runners. They’re just pretty competitive guys. I feel like they know how to win baseball games and they’re gonna put us in position to win games, we’re just gonna have to take care of things offensively to do it.”
What are you expecting out of this weekend trip to Mexico?
A: “First time we’ve done it. It was set up by our athletic director Edgar Soto. It’s gonna be a great cultural experience. I’ve had the chance to coach in Mexico with USA baseball — it was a great experience — and I’m expecting the same. We’re playing college level, some select teams they put together. It’s an event they’re doing, sounds pretty big. We just have to go down there and play well.”
- The men’s basketball team extended its winning streak to four games, beating Phoenix College and Scottsdale CC last week to improve its record to 13-11.
- Murphy Gershman
- (Tucson High) was a standout, getting 30 points and 18 rebounds against Scottsdale and 13 points and 10 rebounds against Phoenix.
- In women’s basketball, the Aztecs snapped a three-game skid with wins against Phoenix and Scottsdale and also improved to 13-11.
- Raja Moreno-Ross
- (Tucson High) led Pima with 14.0 points per game in the two victories.
- The softball team opened by winning two of five games at the College of Southern Nevada Kick-Off. The Aztecs beat Salt Lake CC and Colorado Northwestern CC.
- The track and field teams hosted an invitational on Saturday, and six Aztecs notched indoor national qualifying marks:
- Briana Rodriguez
- (long jump
- , Marlee Sherwood
- (triple jump)
- , Nikki Regalado
- , Khalil Hakim
- (triple jump)
- , Deante Gaines
- (triple jump) and
- Cruz Rodriguez