Inside the dugout


Baseball season is long and tough and requires a high level of mental focus and consistency.

The Trojans showed everyone that they are not a team to be taken lightly. The team concluded its season with an impressive overall record of 28-13 and a conference record of 12-5.

This team has turned heads this season and their outstanding play has not gone unheard. They may not be the most talented team in the state, however, they might have the most heart.

While following this year’s team, you notice how every player buys into the coach’s system. They do not play for individual stats, nor play to make a top highlight. The 2016-2017 baseball team genuinely plays the sport for one another.

When asking Dino Nomicos, head coach for the Trojans, on the positive effect of his team bonding off the field, Nomicos says:

“You can have the best players and if they are not bonding in that locker room and if they are not together as one heartbeat, they are not going to win. We don’t have the greatest players. We have a lot of good players and a lot of alright players, but they all have a great work ethic and I think that translated to a 28-11 record.”

Chemistry is required in every winning team. The sport does not matter. If teammates are unable to get along, then the chances of winning are slim to none. This year, the team showed that if you play for one another and block out the outside noise, then success is inevitable.

The Trojans have a lucky charm, a statue of a dog, which shows how superstitious they can be. Having a lucky charm in the locker room brings hope and positivity to the team. It acts as a portable mascot that the team can bring wherever they play.

Early into the season, the Trojans showed that they are capable of being a top team in their division. In late January and early February, the Trojans showcased the first of many winning streaks. The team’s three-game winning streak was sparked after a victory against one of the highest ranked teams in the state.

Going back to Jan. 28, the Trojans made an early season statement after beating Fresno City College 3-1. At that time, Fresno City College was the third-ranked team in the state of California.

Early into the season, Cole Watts, Skyline’s closing pitcher, was given the assignment to seal the deal for the Trojans. Watts came through, pitching four innings and only allowing one hit while striking out four players. Watts was awarded the win.

When asked how Watts approaches pressure situation and if he feeds off his teammates’ energy, Watts says:

“I’m there to get three outs and I just go as hard as I can. I love to do it for my team, so I use the pressure to give myself adrenaline to fuel off.”

As the non-conference games continued, the Trojans were able to top their three-game winning streak with an impressive seven-game streak. In those seven games, the team showed its dominance and ability to stay consistent.

The seven-game winning stretch unveiled two positive characteristics which are found in many great baseball teams.

The first characteristic the Trojans showed was their ability to win with humility. This team has not let their success get to their heads. They stay hungry and are always ready for their next challenge, rather than settle for what they have already accomplished.

The second characteristic was being able to remain composed in close game situations. Examples of when the Trojans were able to keep cool include when they beat West Valley College in the 10th inning and when they clinched a win against De Anza College by one run.

The battle between West Valley was a high-scoring game. Skyline showed that they can drive in runs when it matters most. The game was tied 7-7 heading into the ninth inning. Both teams were unable to score in the ninth, which caused the game to go into an extra inning. And in the 10th inning, the Trojans were able to score three runs, winning the game 10-9.

In the battle against De Anza, the Trojans demonstrated their ability to play defense. Ray Falk pitched a seven-inning shutout. Not only was Falk’s pitching on point but so was the team’s overall infield defense. The victory was a defensive team effort.

When asked Falk if he feeds off the incredible plays produced by the infield and outfield, Falk says:

“Absolutely. You are always pulling for your teammate, especially when the go the extra mile to make something spectacular happened. You are always going to be fired up for it.”

Inside the locker room, the Trojans have a laid back culture on and off the field. The unity of the team is shown through their off-field team bonding. On multiple occasions, the the team have thrown post-practice lunches, team parties and beach days to grow closer together.

Skyline entered conference play with an overall record of 16-5. Every team experiences growing pains and adversity is inevitable. However, the way a team handles the adversity dictates whether they are a good, bad, average, or great team. Especially in baseball, you will lose games and you will face obstacles.

The Trojans’ ability to handle obstacles and adversity is a tribute to their great coaching staff and each player’s work ethic.

When asking Joe Galea on how the coaching staff helps prepare the team, Galea says:

“They definitely teach you a lot on how to prepare for a game and mentality. It makes us much smarter than the teams we play and we are ahead of everyone else.”

When asking Kyle Barret, shortstop for the Trojans, how the team has improved over the course of the season, Barret says:

“Early on, we struggled offensively, (specifically) laying off the off-speed pitches and just having quality at bats.”

The Trojans have done a great job at improving weaknesses this season. Every team that aspires to be great must be open to self-evaluation. Both the pitching staff and field players have been open to adjusting in efforts to improve any weaknesses.

A characteristic of this team that isn’t always acknowledged is their fight: their fight in practice to get better and their fight in games. Sports require strong mental focus, especially baseball. In baseball, losing is certain but the way you handle losing dictates your winning patterns.

Aaron Albaum, second baseman for the Trojans, spoke about how losing does not drag the team down mentally.

“You have to know that coming into the season you are going to have you ups and downs. You are going to have your high times when you win a bunch of games and rally them off and you are going to lose a couple of games,” Albaum says. “That’s just baseball. You just have to prepare mentally before the season.”

The Trojans have all of the good qualities that you see in every championship baseball team. Nomicos compared them to the 2010 San Francisco Giants in the sense that they fight as a collective group and they all buy into the system they’ve come accustomed to follow.

Although the Trojans lost their two playoff games against Delta College, their season has still been a success.

As student athletes, these young men look not only to fight for a potential scholarship, but to excel in the classroom as well. According to Nomicos, all of his players will earn an A.A. degree. Baseball is just a game at the end of the day. For these players, win or lose, they will use the experience they’ve learned and implement them wherever they end up in the future. The Skyline baseball program has a rich tradition of producing fine young men and has been running strong for 16 years.