There's a reason the Weatherford College baseball team is a consistent contender in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference. The Coyotes are consistent in their approach to each season, a philosophy that has been, well, consistent ever since coach Jeff Lightfoot started the program almost two decades ago.
"The philosophy typically doesn't change from year to year," Lightfoot said. "Some years we return more than others, but we always want to bring in top arms. We want hitters that are dynamic, strong and athletic."
That philosophy has served Lightfoot and his teams well, not only at Weatherford College, where he has 588 victories but also at Eastfield College before. His teams there won 143 games (giving him 731 in his career) and an NJCAA Division III national championship.
With another season at hand, Lightfoot and the Coyote faithful are looking for more wins following another solid round of recruiting.
"We have a fair number of new guys. It would be difficult to name a top recruit at this point," Lightfoot said. "We will have eight or nine new pitchers competing for roles, and we returned some key pieces on the mound as well."
Among the new faces are transfer pitchers Jack Stroud (Florida Atlantic), Micah Berens (Northwestern) and Grant Zwald (Stephen F. Austin). Hitters among the newcomers include first baseman/left-handed pitcher Robin Villeneuve and outfielder/left-handed pitcher Alexis Gravel, both from Canada; catcher Cal Stark and outfielder Alex Vergara, transfers from Navarro; and middle infielder Cade Merka, a transfer from Texas A&M.
Top returning pitchers include Adrian Siravo, who has committed to LSU and Texas Tech commit Kade Bragg. Top returning hitters include second baseman Austin Green, first/third baseman Noah Boughton and outfielder Kam Weil.
"We want to be tough, hard-nosed JUCO guys that play with more tempo, energy and attitude than everyone we play. That's the focus — establishing an identity," Lightfoot said concerning the main thing he is looking for in fall ball, adding that the chemistry is looking good between the newcomers and returners.
"Everyone appears to be on the same page and pulling on the same end of the rope. We have a bunch of guys that model how to do things right on and off the field. That should spread to some of the new guys," he added.
As far as the conference in the region? Well, that hasn't changed either, Lightfoot said. Once again, it will feature several teams that could make a deep postseason run in the spring, perhaps even to the JUCO World Series.
"We have seen several of them (teams) already," Lightfoot said. "Region V North is strong. Our conference is the toughest, deepest conference in the nation."