The success of the Robertson boys’ basketball program in recent seasons has meant a consistent early-season test of the Cardinal baseball team’s depth.
With several key teammates extending their hoops season by a couple weeks, the rest of the RHS sluggers have had to pick up the slack until the team is made whole in mid-March.
This season, the Cardinals have more than handled that test, winning five of their first seven games. Most recently, the Redbirds made a run to the championship game of a St. Michael’s tournament before tripping up against a pretty good Cobre team.
First-year head coach Kenneth Sandoval, who took over the program from Tony Renon this past offseason, said he likes what he sees thus far.
Especially encouraging, he said after Tuesday evening’s practice, is the squad’s depth.
“There’s a lot of guys who are close (to challenging for a starting job on the varsity),” he said. “From junior varsity to varsity, there are a lot of guys working.”
Sandoval may be in his first year as RHS head coach, but he’s been an assistant for several years and is well familiar with his charges.
This is a club that has made forays into the state tournament with increasing consistency in recent years.
The Cardinals boast not only depth but a combination of experienced ballplayers and a promising group of younger athletes.
Basketball’s end meant the return of strong-armed, athletic Ryan Tafoya and the arrival of Brandon Trujillo, Joseph Mascareñas and others.
The senior class includes Tafoya, Mascareñas, Miguel Jauregui, Miclo Allen, Devin Chavez, and Diego Montoya.
There are also plenty of sophomores, freshmen and eighth graders, meaning that the cupboard figures to be well-stocked for some time.
Team depth extends to the full bullpen of available pitchers, which include sophomore ace Colin Pedro, Allen, Montoya, Tafoya, Nathan Archuleta, Keanu Baca and Michael Salazar, along with Jeremiah Gouin, Francisco Arguello, Brandon Trujillo, Derek Applegate, Donald Abreu, Roman Sandoval and Diego Lucero.
Position players not listed as pitchers: Connor Houdek, J.R. Gonzalez, Javier Trujillo, Devin Chavez, Joel Silva, Ryan Chavez, Dominic Lucero, Alejandro Baca, Michael Sena, Kenny Yara and Joshua Romero.
Most of the Cardinals can play multiple positions, which gives Sandoval and his coaching staff flexibility.
And if they can work out the kinks on the defensive side, the Cardinals have shown they can hit the ball well enough to compete in every game.
Jauregui leads the team in base hits and doubles, and Pedro, Salazar, Archuleta and Allen have all contributed well thus far on offense.
Jauregui, Tafoya and Dominic Lucero have all hit home runs to date.