TEMPLETON — The Templeton Eagles baseball team will enter the Central Section and more importantly, the Mountain League, this year with a new head baseball coach in Cesar Ortega. Ortega was introduced to the team on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 19, and the team had their first practice together shortly after.
The Eagles are coming off of a season where they completely dominated the Los Padres League, finishing 17-4, and will now look to carry that momentum with them as they will play the bigger schools in the area like Righetti and San Luis Obispo.
Oretga brings 29 years of coaching experience to Templeton from the Central Valley. Ortega has not only coached at the high school level, coaching at Edison, McLane High School, and Sunnyside but also at the collegiate level as he served as the head coach of the Central Valley Bears, a collegiate wood bat team in the Pacific West Baseball League, for the past six years.
Recently, Ortega was an assistant with Edison High School in 2018 and also coached the Central Valley Bears to a 21-9 record over the summer.
“It has been great,” Ortega said of his time with the team. “These guys are real coachable and they have been learning. They come out and work hard and that is all I can really ask for.”
The Eagles were a bit late on hiring a new coach and the team knows it. On Dec. 10, the team captains held their own practice, without a coach, to stay on par with the other teams in the county that have already begun their training for the new season. Now with Ortega in place, Templeton is full speed ahead as they try and make up for some of the time they have missed.
“He realizes that we are behind and so we are playing catch-up,” senior and reigning MVP of the Los Padres League Justice Gibbons said. “So he is doing a really good job of just playing aggressive and getting us out here and working hard. All of us are pretty much buying into his mentality of just get out here and work, practices are for work and games are for fun.”
While Templeton does return the league MVP and three other second team all-league selections from a year ago in Tyler Kaschewski, Nolan Stetz and Macer Lardner, they will need to replace their three first-team all-league selections that graduated last year.
“We don’t play Morro Bay this year at all,” Ortega said. “We play San Luis Obispo, Righetti, St. Joeseph's, so I mean this league is going to be really intense and that is what I am trying to get these kids ready for because the level of play in this league is completely different than last year’s and they were senior-heavy last year and this year we’re not.”
Ortega looks to bring a more of an aggressive college-style of baseball to the Eagles in 2019 and less of the small ball that fans might have become accustomed to in the previous years under former coach Pete Kothmier.
“Just his aggressiveness,” Gibbons said when asked the main difference between his coach last year and this year. “He is buying into just, like, hitting and making the plays. Pete [Kothmier] was a little more small ball, which isn’t bad, but the aggressive part is definitely the difference.”
All three of the North County schools will enter this baseball season with new head coaches as Atascadero has hired Joe Davis as their new coach and the Paso Robles Bearcats have turned their program over to Jonathan Thornhill after longtime coach Derek Stroud retired last spring.