Now that the many new names and faces on the roster have gotten familiar with each other, along with those returning, the Weatherford College Coyotes are ready to battle for another baseball postseason berth.
The Coyotes entered the fall with 29 new roster spots. The hope is that when the new and returning talent gels it will lead them back to the playoffs after missing out last year, going 31-23 overall and 14-18 in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference.
In fact, the Coyotes are seeking their first postseason appearance since 2017, when they reached the Region V Tournament finals.
“We have to play with an edge, a chip on our shoulder, and we have to bring that to the ballpark every day,” Head Coach Jeff Lightfoot said. “We have to travel well with a tough road schedule. Can we stay healthy and/or respond when guys go down? We have to be tough.
“Our pitching should be a strength with 12 sophomores on the mound, but they must improve and prove to be consistent.”
Key returners for the Coyotes include right-handed pitchers Bryce Hackett (2-4, 4.72 ERA, 61 innings, 64 strikeouts) and Michael Stanford as well as infielder Hunter Rosson.
“Stanford should be the ace of the staff after a strong finish to 2019. Virden needs to return to pre-injury form in 2020,” Lightfoot said. “And a healthy Hunter Rosson at shortstop should be a stabling force up the middle.”
Transfers Brandon Uhse (outfield) from Stephen F. Austin, Nick Rodriguez (infield) from Luna Community College, Brett Brown (infield) from Texas A&M;,Tad Thompson (outfield) from Odessa College and Casen White (outfield) from SFA should add some experience and toughness to the lineup, Lightfoot said. He also noted that freshman Eddie Calzoncit from Blanco has a chance to be a powerful bat this season.
“This group is physical and athletic. It should be a dynamic lineup,” Lightfoot said, adding of the team chemistry, “These guys get along and work hard together.”
As always, the Coyotes compete in the NTJCAC and Region V, considered by many—including Lightfoot—to be the toughest in the nation.
“We play in the top conference in the country. This year is no exception,” he said. “Several schools in our region, in our conference will be among the best in the country. Any number of five or six teams could contend.”
Which is why, once again, the Coyotes will play a very challenging non-conference schedule, Lightfoot said. For example, Weatherford opens the season with a doubleheader Feb. 1 at home against Navarro, ranked fourth in the nation. They also face the Bulldogs Feb. 15 in a tournament at Bryan. Also, conference foe McLennan is ranked seventh in the nation in the preseason.
“We will be challenged and road tested early. We want to prepare for conference, so I play as tough a schedule as I can,” Lightfoot said. “We want to be the best team in the country in May. In order to do that we have to challenge ourselves.”