By Dana Finkler
Collegiate Staff Writer
The GRCC Raiders baseball team will make its annual spring training trip to Florida March 1-8.
While in Florida, the team competes against other community college baseball programs from across the country. The players pay for their trip through fundraising and host clinics at the Ford Fieldhouse for youth baseball.
Each year it gives the players a chance to prepare for the upcoming season and gives the coaches a chance to evaluate players aside from practicing indoors at the Ford Fieldhouse.
The Raiders finished second in Regionals last season after losing to Muskegon CC in extra innings 4-3. The Raiders finished with a 31-23 overall record last season.
This season the Raiders are looking for revenge against their conference foe. The team has 16 sophomores and 14 freshmen on its roster. Head coach Mike Cupples likes the mix of talent he has this season — his eighth season as a Raiders head coach. He has been a part of the program since 1992.
“I think we’ve got a good team this year; we can swing it and we have good depth with pitching,” Cupples said. “We’ll just have to see where we sit after the trip – hopefully not many backwards ks.” (Backwards ks refers to a strikeout when looking)
As of now many of the positions are set, but the bullpen still has to be finalized and second base has yet to be solidified. Sophomore Drew Dunbar, transfer Steve Ayala, and freshman Mike Battistelli are all competing for the open position. Cupples and his coaching staff will make a decision after the trip.
After the tough loss in Regionals last season, this year the players are eager to begin the season.
“We’ve got a lot of leadership on the team this season and the incoming freshmen have looked good,” said sophomore shortstop Carlos Berroa. “Everyone here wants to win a national championship. We talk about it every practice.”
This past Sunday the Raiders held a recruiting showcase at the Ford Fieldhouse for possible players for next season’s squad.
“We had a lot of talent show up,” Cupples said. “We have about 8-10 players we will be looking at for next season.”
Recruiting coordinator and hitting coach Corey Gross said, “We’re right where we want to be and we’ve signed a lot infielders for next season.”
The Raiders open the season on March 17 away at Owens CC, and then host their first home game the next day at Belknap Park.