Mateo Duran pitching

Mateo Duran will be one of several arms the Dons will rely upon this season as they  look to figure out their young pitching staff.

If you were to sum up the 2023 WLV Dons in one word it would be aggressive.

In the Dons clubhouse during practice this week the word aggressive was written down again and again, they want to be aggressive at the plate and on the bases this season. In the first season for head coach Sal Archuleta he wants to see his players have an aggressive approach to everything they do on the baseball field. . 

“That’s the one thing I’m really, really trying to instill, let’s have that aggressive approach,” Archuleta said. “Everything from at the plate to on the bases I do want to have an aggressive approach, I’m really stressing and implementing aggressive game plans.”

Archuleta has spent many years in the dugout now in an assistant’s capacity, 2023 will be the first time that he is the one calling the shots. It’s an adjustment he’s been thrilled to make, but it’s one of many adjustments taking place for the 2023 Dons. Archuleta is a new coach with a new approach to the game, the Dons will be having to replace their best player from last season, Roy Pacheco, who pitched a lot of innings for them and WLV will no longer be playing on the field out on Cinder Rd, their new baseball complex is ready to go and the Dons will be playing on the new West Las Vegas Baseball Field on campus this season. It’s a year filled with new for the Dons as Archuleta looks to lay down the foundation of the program that he wants to establish.

“We want to come out here and establish a program from top to bottom,” Archuleta said. “From our high school, JV, all the way down to our middle school, establishing our program is very important to me and I think we’re on the right track to doing that.”

On the field this season Arculeta intends to rely heavily on his upper classmen. The Dons have six seniors on the roster this season and that’s without junior Lucas Archuleta who is entering his fourth year of varsity baseball. Lucas Archuleta and senior Eloy Aragon were two regular fixtures on the lineup card for the Dons a season ago, this season they will be tasked with leading the Dons offense. Seniors Enrique Gonzales and Ethan Montano played smaller roles in 2023, but will be asked to play bigger ones this season. Gonzales is one of several arms that will make up the Dons’ pitching staff, while Montano’s speed on the basepaths is a perfect fit for the Dons’ aggressive approach. 

“Right now I’m looking at that senior group, and I think Lucas (Archuleta) is going to have a breakout year on offense,” Sal Archuleta said. “Things in the past were always up and down offensively for us and I’m trying to stress consistency, and I’m expecting that from all of these guys.”

Last season the Dons were a team filled with youth, and to an extent they have that again this year. As eighth graders last season Javi Montoya and Mateo Duran broke through into the Dons regular lineup and were key contributors to a playoff team. This season they are back with a year of varsity experience and figure to be a big part of what the Dons do on the baseball field once again in 2023. Duran and Montoya will play in the infield and both could see time on the mound this season.

“One of the young players I’m really excited to see this season is Javi Montoya,” Archuleta said. “He’s a baller, he loves the game and has a good approach to it.”

While the Dons did just get a good portion of their roster back from basketball season the games are coming. Five of the Dons players did not practice with the team for the first time until March 6, just eight days before their first game on March 14 at home in a double header against Pecos. This season for the Dons is a season about building. Coach Archuleta wants to see his team make progress throughout this season and if they do that, he thinks this team can be right in the mix of what many consider to be a wide open AAA field this season.

“The way I’m observing it there’s a lot of unknown, and I want us to be in the mix of that unknown,” Archuleta said. “I feel very confident that we can get in there, compete and really mix things up, especially in district play.”

The Dons will take the field for the first time on March 14 against Pecos, the first regular season game at the new WLV Baseball Field. The Dons will open up district play on March 28 at home against St. Michael’s and will close out the regular season at Santa Fe Indian School on April 29.

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