BASEBALL: Playing without a home field all year, the Monarchs fell just short of the playoffs.
By Jorge Belon, Managing Editor
As the dust settles on the odyssey that was Valley College’s baseball season, a clear picture is left for Head Coach Dave Mallas to put the season in perspective.
An entire season spent on the road due to the construction of the new field on campus resulted in 1,263.2 miles in their little white vans. However, the road warriors had their highest win total (19-16-1) since 2012 ,when they finished 20-19 and second in the Western State Conference South Division. Those 19 wins were still not enough to end the five-year post-season dry spell.
“I told them at the ending of the year that no one expected much from us because the challenges were so great,” said Mallas. “We practiced on the football field for the entire year for starters. I am very proud of this group and I will always remember this special group.”
In the first two months, the men in green got off to a decent start with a 6-5-1 record. In March, the Monarchs caught fire, winning 9 of 13. They enjoyed a five-game winning streak in the process and also won four games by six runs or more.
They entered the final month of the season in second place and well on their way to the playoffs at 15-9-1.
After a slow 2-3 start in April, they finished the season going 2-4 in their final six contests and lost three one run games – twice to eventual division champs Glendale Community College.
“I firmly believe this team should of made the playoffs,” said Mallas. “It is very disappointing that we did not make the postseason. We had a very strong sophomore class which led our very talented freshmen. I think we would of gone far in the playoffs.”
When the team had the rare chance to make some playoff noise, their bats went silent.
In April, Valley scored 40 runs in 11 games after scoring 80 in March in 13 games. In their five-game winning streak, they had plated more runs than the entire month of April.
The defense and pitching were solid throughout the entire season, but began to break down in the final 11 games, allowing 55 runs. That was the first time during the whole season that the Monarchs gave up more runs then scored.
“We didn’t make enough good pitches. We didn’t make enough defensive plays. We didn’t have the timely hitting that we had going into [April],” said Mallas, who refuses to blame the endless road trip for magnifying their fatigue. “People on the outside might think we were just tired, but from within the programs there is no excuses for the coaches or the players.”
The 11-year head coach is proud but frustrated at the same time that this team did not make the playoffs after overcoming so many hurdles. However, 2016 could find Mallas in Wonderland.
“I thought we had a very successful season. Our sophomores were tremendous in their work ethic and leadership. As for our freshmen, they saw how close we were. If they are ready when they return, they will take that next step. We also want to break in the new stadium with a successful year.”