Moorpark College Raiders anticipate the return of baseball after year-long hiatus due to COVID-19

Dylan+Kramer+swings+at+a+pitch+during+a+home+game+against+LA+Mission+college+on+Jan.+28%2C+2020+at+Moorpark+College.+Photo+credit%3A+Ryan+Bough

Dylan Kramer swings at a pitch during a home game against LA Mission college on Jan. 28, 2020 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Mitchell Ross

Spring wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t a perfectly manicured diamond with ballplayers competing in America’s great pastime. While it was uncertain for a long time, baseball is finally back at Moorpark College.

A near 12-month hiatus was put to rest when the VCCCD announced Feb. 26 that its’ three schools, including Moorpark College, would opt-in to the spring II sports season.

The return is music to the players’ and coaches’ ears as they have been conditioning this offseason in hopes of a spring return.

The Raiders are ready to find any normalcy this spring. Part of the “norm” is their head coach, Mario Porto, a Moorpark baseball staff member of over 30 years.

Coach Porto is optimistic going into the season.

“I feel really good about the lineup right now,” stated Porto. “When the season abruptly ended, it looked like the team was turning the corner and primed for a hot stretch. They could have rattled off 10 or more wins in a row. We have a handful of new kids, but most of them are back from ’20.”

Among the returning Raiders are outfielder Spencer Perry, 20, and infielder Alex Vega, 21. Both are looking to prove their talent this spring for an opportunity to compete at the next level.

Perry echoed the sentiment of his coach at the ending of last season.

“The last game we played, Questa (College), and they are definitely one of the best teams,” began Perry. “Porto always says it is tough to win up there, but we beat them.”

Competition this spring will be a change of pace, as maintaining COVID guidelines is still a priority for the Raiders.

Student changes to be allowed on campus will include a covid screening before entering the campus and frequent PCR testing for players and coaches. Missing a PCR test can mean missing two weeks of instruction for the student-athletes.

While competition can begin as soon as Apr. 10, the number of team practices and competitions, Porto mentioned that the school has gone through six or more variations of schedules.

Porto does not know the number of games this season will consist of, but he is happy to manage however many there are.

This uncertainty does not faze the players, many of whom, like Vega, are just grateful and motivated to be playing again.

“The motivator is that I am going to play like I am never going to play again,” began Vega. “I am going to have that motivation to go out and compete. I think that Moorpark College made the right decision and they made many student-athletes happy.”

As certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, when spring comes around, baseball cannot be far behind it.

Raiders on and off the field are excited for the months to come. Until then, play ball, Moorpark!