Coast Union head baseball coach Brian Machado, in his seventh year at the helm, will be hard pressed to take his team to the CIF Division 5A semifinals again this year, as he did in 2014 with a lot of talented, experienced players. But he has confidence that even without some of the standouts from 2014, his returning players, and some new talent on the roster, will make the Broncos competitive in 2015.
Right now Machado has “everyone playing everywhere,” so he can evaluate where players are most likely to succeed.
Sophomore Jez Lawson, the MVP in cross country and an outstanding basketball player, is out for baseball for the first time at Coast.
“He swings the bat pretty hard, pretty well,” Machado said. “He’s a good athlete, and we’ll see him in the infield or outfield later this season.”
Freshman Chase Holtz, who pitched very well in Little League, has a lot of talent, and Machado put him out there against Atascadero this week. “We’re going to get his butterflies out of the way right off the bat,” the coach said.
“He throws a pretty good curveball. I want him to throw two curveballs in a row to the leadoff batter. After that, we’re rocking.”
One of the most interesting new players to watch this year is Broncos football star Bien Trieu, a senior, who racked up 1,145 all-purpose yards last season on the gridiron. His speed could be a positive factor for the Broncos, although he’s starting fresh in a new sport.
Machado figures to use him as a designated hitter until his defense comes around.
Trieu runs from home to first in 3.9 seconds, Machado said. “That’s major-league speed. As long as he can bunt the ball on the ground, he’ll have a chance to get on base. In football, you throw it, I’ll catch it and run like crazy. But in baseball, you have to hit the ball yourself before you can run like crazy.”
As to the brutal early-season schedule against much larger schools — Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, King City, Santa Maria — Machado isn’t worried about his players getting discouraged if they lose by lopsided scores.
“We’ll talk to them about that,” Machado. “If we get out of the first inning with them scoring only one run, we’re good. I just don’t want to get blown out early. I just don’t want to give other teams outs. We need to catch the ball.
“If they get hits, hey, fine, I can live with that. But I have a problem when we go out there and give them outs (make errors that should have been outs) and play four-out baseball, five-out baseball.”
This year, the baseball team has an iPad to videotape players’ swings, and unlike last year’s squad, this year’s team has the ability to play it back on a monitor and show the hitters their flaws so they can make needed corrections.
“That should be helpful for us when we practice,” Machado said.
The Broncos lost 16-0 to Atascadero on Tuesday, March 3. Coast Union plays San Luis Obispo at 3:30 p.m. p.m. today (Thursday). The game is broadcast on KTEA-FM (103.5) and streams live on www.ktea-fm.com.