By Kyah Corff
SYV Star Intern
After a winning season that nevertheless fell short of their goals, the coach and players on the Santa Ynez High School baseball team are ready to get back on the field as soon as possible.
Expectations are always high for a team with a tradition of winning, including the CIF Southern Section title in 2014.
A year ago, the team went 25-8. This year, despite winning 20 of their 30 games, the Pirates lost in the first round of the CIF playoffs to Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana.
“Once you get past that initial disappointment, you reflect on the entire season,” said Warren Dickey, who in his seventh year as head coach of the team.
And with reflection, he said, the players were winners because of their character and academic prowess.
The maturity, cooperation and leadership of the senior class helped the team overcome injuries and other difficulties, he said, which also helped them grow as a team and as individuals.
“You want kids of character and this school is full of them. We’re just lucky to have a few of them on the baseball team,” Dickey said with a laugh. “Yeah, I want the best player, but this year’s senior class were able to be good students and good athletes.”
He said the senior class was also exceptional at passing down the torch of good character.
He pointed to seniors Travis Walker and Dusty Gregg as examples of outstanding student athletes and leaders whose dedication to baseball was obvious.
Travis was the team captain and first team all-league and is now playing baseball at Hancock College. Dusty was also first team all-league and was the quarterback of the football team last fall.
Both of them, as well as others, were influential mentors for their younger teammates, which Dickey believes will show in next year’s baseball season.
“It will be tough to lose these kids and what they have given to the program,” he said, although he is glad to see them graduating and pursuing their futures.
“Having gone through (the CIF loss), I will come back better prepared and the team will come back better prepared,” said Dickey, who added that this season taught him to be more patient with the team and to review the game’s fundamentals.
The coach said he loves baseball not just for the successes but also for the pursuit of unattainable excellence and the experience of watching his kids conquer challenges on and off the field.
Santa Ynez Valley Star intern Kyah Corff will be a senior this fall at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.