Baseball’s seniors culminate last season with hope of tourney spot

Sacramento State senior Trevor Paine (batting) is playing in his final season as a Hornet after redshirting last year because of a wrist injury.

Sacramento State senior Trevor Paine (batting) is playing in his final season as a Hornet after redshirting last year because of a wrist injury.

State Hornet Staff

The seniors on Sacramento State’s baseball team prepare for the upcoming conference games and look back on how they changed since starting their collegiate baseball careers.

 The Hornets’ senior players close their final season and expect to lead the team into the Western Athletic Conference games with their experiences and knowledge.

 Head coach Reggie Christiansen said the seniors have the ability to lead the team and would like to see more leadership.

 “They are certainly capable (of leading), but when you struggle individually, it’s hard to put yourself in a position where people are going to follow you,” Christiansen said.

 Derrick Chung, senior catcher and infielder, said he feels his performance and leadership on the field gives inspiration to the newer players while maintaining a somewhat quiet demeanor.

“I try to set a good example and I’m not a real talkative person,” Chung said. “I do my best and if I see a teammate struggling I talk to them and tell them to keep working.”

Hunter Adrian, senior outfielder and pitcher, has played for Sac State for two years after transferring from Merced Junior College. He said the team is having trouble with opponents’ soft throwing left-handed pitchers, but feels the team can overcome their faults and be successful.

“I’m not worried about us facing the hard right-handed arms, which a lot of conference teams have,” Adrian said. “I think we will overcome teams that think they can push by us by throwing some velocity.”

Trevor Paine, first base and outfielder, said the experience of going to the WAC tournament in 2008 is motivation for him and other seniors such as Chung and Brent Hottman to taking the team to this year’s conference tournament.

“We haven’t made it (to the WAC Tournament) the last few years, so the biggest challenge is wanting to go out on a good note and leave something behind – leaving these guys in good hands that they know what it’s like to go to a WAC tournament,” he said.

Paine’s career has spanned from being a pitcher to a batter, something he is grateful for giving him insight on what to expect from the opposition.

“I came to pitch for two years, then I got hurt. So coach gave me the opportunity to hit,” Paine said. “So I’m able to see both sides of pitching, defense and hitting.”

R.J. Davis, senior pitcher and closer, said his experiences from Oral Roberts University and Sacramento City College gave him knowledge he applied to his career with Sac State.

“Everything that has happened in the past builds you up to this point, right now I help out with pitching staff,” Davis said. “We have a lot of young guys where I give them my knowledge and help them out during the game. I’m trying to be a leader and mentor at the same time.”

Chung said as a freshman his goal was to enjoy his time on the field. Now as he reassesses himself, his goal is to win the tournament and reach the pinnacle of achievement with the team.

“As a freshman, my goal was to just play, now it changed to leading the team to regionals, super regionals and the championships,” he said.

Chung said even now he feels like a freshman coming into a new season, but his experiences and knowledge bring him back to his position as a leader.

“I feel at home when I am here on the field,” Chung said. “I feel this is where I belong and it’s sad knowing I’ll be gone next year. But it’s life, it’s not going to last forever.”

Hottman, senior catcher, said the sport has taught him the reward of consistency and how to bring oneself back from losses.

“I’ve learned how to deal with a failure,” Hottman said. “Dealing with failure in baseball is a big part of me because you have to come in the next day and can’t reflect in the past. You have to worry about the future and move on.”

Adrian said the changes he encountered from his previous school modified his perception of his baseball career.

“The game’s really humbling,” Adrian said. “I hit better in junior college and I come here and face more adversity and not play as much, having to fight for more playing time. It’s part of being a Division I athlete, and I knew that coming in.”

His goal when he started playing baseball was to earn a Division I scholarship. Once it was realized, he focused on academics.

“It’s bittersweet. We are so close to a dream. I have been waiting my whole life to play college baseball and seeing that dream fading away is hard to deal with, but it’s time for the real world,” Adrian said. “I’m trying to have as much fun and get as far as I can while I’m here. It’s hard to put into words how much I’m enjoying the game.”

Joe de Ocampo can be reached at [email protected]