Published Mar. 8, 2023
By AVERY PALSHAW
After having a 12-9 winning record in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division last year, Carmel High School’s varsity baseball team is expecting a successful 2023 season with strong pitching.
Head coach Mike Kelly, who took over the position at CHS in 1994 and led 12 Mission Trail Athletic League championship-winning teams before stepping away from 2008-2019 and returning in 2020, expresses his full confidence in his team this year. Despite having to face some tough competition in the Gabilan Division of the Pacific Coast Athletic League, the legendary coach is determined to improve on the team’s league record and performance from last season.
“My main goal is just to be able to see how good we can get and how well we can play as a group,” Kelly explains. “Who knows what that translates to in wins and losses, but everything will take care of itself if we feel like we’re playing together.”
Returning varsity players are currently in the process of “filling the shoes” of their former teammates, whether that be stepping into a starting position or getting moved up in the batting lineup.
“We have pretty good guys that were backing guys up last year, and there was healthy competition, but now it’s their turn to shine and I think they will,” Kelly confidently says.
While an effective defense and offense will lend itself to the success of the team, the CHS pitching roster is without a doubt the strongest aspect of the team, with around eight pitchers to throw most innings. Leading pitcher, junior JJ Sanchez, ended last season with a 7-4 winning record, 2.72 ERA and 73 strikeouts in the matter of 67 innings pitched.
“As a pitcher, I am trying to improve on my fastball and changeup,” says Sanchez.
The devoted pitcher has specifically been putting in an effort to enhance his two-seam fastball. Offensively, Sanchez led the team last season with six home runs, putting him at third place in the league for home runs, and had 29 RBI and a .391 batting average. Sanchez was also selected to the All Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division and was named as part of the All Monterey County Baseball Team for the 2022 season.
Junior Bobo Iandoli has proved to be a promising offensive leader as well, with impressive stats from last season, having 25 hits, 14 RBI and 28 runs.
Though key members of last season’s team have graduated, several young and new players have stepped up to be team leaders. Senior Ethan Jackson transferred to CHS this school year from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California, and is predicted to be a valuable addition to the team as a catcher.
“I’m most looking forward to creating new relationships with my teammates and just having a good time with the boys out on the field,” remarks Jackson.
Kelly also anticipates that the addition of freshman pitcher Matthew Maxon, a Stanford University verbal commit, will be beneficial to the team.
With league games starting in March, the team’s record through Tuesday was 2-1 in preseason, and the head coach is working with players to make adjustments in their positions in order to remain a forceful team this season.
On Friday, Carmel will face Salinas at 3:30 p.m. at CHS.