Dons baseball battling for playoff spot2 min read

Taylor Bicht and Sergio Valencia

With five games remaining in the season and the playoffs approaching, the De Anza College baseball team is in the middle of one their best seasons in recent memory.

At the moment, the team is going through a rough patch, losing four of their last five games.

Before this recent stretch, the Dons had been able to bounce back after losses, not allowing a losing streak to extend to more than two games all year.

This consistency has led the Dons to a 19-11 record, while going 8-6 in conference games. This leaves De Anza at third place in their division.

“We did a great job early in the year beating some teams we weren’t really supposed to beat, so it has given us a very strong RPI ranking,” head coach Erick Raich said.

It hasn’t come easy for the Dons as they’ve suffered multiple injuries to players throughout the year. Raich said the Dons lost their second baseman, four infielders and three pitchers, as well as two outfielders

“So as of right now we have no depth as a team,” Raich said. “Going into the season we had lots of depth at all positions.”

Injured or not, the team is still playing at a high level.

“I believe our success this year has come from just wanting to do something special for the De Anza program,” catcher Danny Molinari said.

It’s been over 20 years since De Anza has won a conference or state title. Molinari said he believes turning the program around and becoming a championship team is what drives this year’s team.

A strength of the Dons this season is their ability to steal bases. The team is currently ranked second overall in stolen bases, according to California Community College Athletic Association.

Led by freshman infielder Nolan Dempsey, who has 16 stolen bases and sophomore outfielder Cris Castillo, who has nine, the Dons have accumulated 65 stolen bases as a team.

What often gets overlooked about this Dons team is how young they are. The entire pitching staff is made up of freshman except for sophomore Alex Zarate.

“We have a young pitching staff that has been doing very well this year,” Zarate said. “As well as a good amount of freshman in the starting lineup.

With four of their remaining six games against Mission College and San Mateo, who are first and fourth in the conference respectively, the Dons will rely heavily on these freshmen to pick them up from their late-season slump.