Carlos Lopez works with Damarjae “Milkshake” Lynch on catching technique.
For North Dallas baseball coach Steven De La Cerda, this upcoming season will be an emotional one. Most of this group of seniors have started for him for the past four years.
The Bulldogs won the District 12-5A title with a 10-2 record last season. Last season, they finished 17-7-1 overall and advanced to the area round of the UIL playoffs.
Now, with the drop to Class 4A, the Bulldogs are competing in a new District 11-4A.
“Our expectations are what they’ve always been,” De La Cerda said recently. “We want to come in, work hard, be good men, and hopefully win district. That’s always a goal here, having success. Winning is what everybody cares about and so we do too. But for a coach we care a lot about the other stuff, too: Academics and character. But getting this team to mesh and the chemistry to go together, hopefully win district, that’s our goal.”
North Dallas returns the pitcher of the year in Christopher Xavien Shay, utility player of the year in third baseman Marco Garcia, District MVP in catcher-pitcher Carlos Lopez, and first team all-district shortstop in Adan Galvan. De La Cerda was also named coach of the year.
All-district shortstop Adan Galvan takes the throw as he touches second base during infield drills.
“We are senior heavy. This is a group that has been with me for four years and have starting since they were freshmen. Pretty much all of our all-district selections from last year are returning,” De La Cerda said. “They are all coming back. They’re hungry and we’re pretty excited.”
Talking about the seniors, he said, “It’s kind of a sad thing because these kids have been with me. They’ve seen failure and they’ve seen success. And we’ve been through it together. And so the fact that some of them are going to leave me, especially these seniors, of course, it kills me because these are kids are like my sons. That’s the way life is but I’m going to enjoy every minute with them.”
Knowing how his players are capable of playing doesn’t make it any easier for De La Cerda. He recently told them at practice that last year was last year, and this is a new season. Put last year in the past, he said.
“It does not make it easier in multiple ways. One, emotional factor, the fact that they are leaving. Two, from a baseball standpoint, they’ve had success and I still have to make sure I’m managing personalties and expectations, and making sure they’re not becoming complacent. Challenging them and letting them know there’s more to be earned. So, it’s not that it’s difficult, it’s not easy.
“You still got to coach teenage boys. That’s not easy, but they know what is expected and they know what our expectations and what we want to accomplish. In that sense, I don’t have to drive that in all the time because they know.”
Modesto Ottenwarden works on taking the throw at first base.
De La Cerda and the Bulldogs open the season with scrimmages against state-ranked Crandall on Tuesday at Crandall.
“What a better way to come out and see what type of team we are against a good quality program,” he said.