HANFORD — With a new head coach and a program that won only three games last season, Hanford West is starting from the bottom.
“This is a total rebuild here this season,” Hanford West coach Reid Robles said.
Hanford West’s issues extend far beyond the diamond where they made nine errors in a 14-2 loss to Dinuba in their Central Sequoia League opener on Tuesday. Robles said some of his players are committed to the team, while others have had issues missing practice or listening to instruction.
“I’m excited for what the future holds, but right now we’re having a lot of trouble with our older classmen showing up to practice and even participating in anything,” Robles said. “For sure the biggest struggle in this program is the kid’s attitudes. The attitudes coming in here on a day-to-day basis they just don’t want it. I got a handful of kids that do, but … you can’t have three kids who want it and the [others] that don’t.”
Robles, the former Hanford West junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant last season, benched three players for Tuesday’s CSL contest for missing practice. Even with the lack of depth and inexperienced players, Robles said it was more important to teach his players that they’re going to be held accountable for their actions.
Those issues, along with the rain, have kept Hanford West from finding a rhythm this season. The offense has put up a total of nine runs in seven games, while allowing 79 runs or 11.3 per game. They’ve allowed double-digit runs against them in all but one game and have scored a season-high two runs three times, including on Tuesday.
Hanford West is now 0-7 overall and has lost 16 games in a row dating back to last season.
Against the Emperors (4-4, 1-0 CSL), the Huskies had two hits — one in the third inning and one in the sixth — and struck out five times. Many batters were far ahead in their swings and got underneath and lifted Dinuba’s pitches making for easy outs.
“The confidence isn’t there for sure,” Robles said. “I do think we need more reps at the plate. The rain, not to put excuses out there, has been hurting us a lot … but there’s really nothing we can do about it. We just got to make adjustments.”
Hanford West scored both their runs in the second inning when Chris Brown got on with a leadoff walk. Huskies center fielder Michael Cranston then put down a perfect bunt down the third baseline to put runners on the corners with no outs.
“My plan was to move the runner over, that’s all my job was,” Cranston said. “I expected to get thrown out at first, luckily I didn’t, but just get the bunt right down to third he was playing deep enough.”
After an out, Spencer Valenzuela grounded out to third, but it was enough to score Brown and record a RBI. A throwing error allowed Cranston to advance and eventually score, but Hanford West trailed 8-2 after the third inning and 14-2 after a six-run fourth by Dinuba.
The Huskies’ only other hit of the game came in the sixth inning on an infield single from Valenzuela. An error advanced him to second with one out, but a baserunning error by two Huskies erased the scoring opportunity.
Hanford West starting pitcher Rey Castaneda had trouble with his command to start the game and the issue was compounded by an error-filled defense. Castaneda allowed three runs in the first and two more in the second.
He was pulled after 3 1/3 innings and with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. He allowed 14 runs on seven hits, but only seven of the runs were earned due to the team’s nine errors. He also hit two batters and walked one.
Cameron Leasure came in for relief and pitched 3 2/3 innings. The junior allowed four hits, but no earned runs with a strikeout and two walks. Leasure said he was throwing strikes and doing his job on the mound. His fastball, curveball and circle changeup produced a scoreless final three innings and the hits he allowed were all singles.
Hanford West has a road game against Kingsburg (2-6, 0-1) on Friday at 4 p.m. This is Hanford West’s first season playing in the Central Sequoia League, so they have no recent contests against Kingsburg.