The Ridgefield Raptors begin: the usual part of the transition from college to summer league base

RIDGEFIELD – To understand how fast the turnaround is from college baseball to the West Coast summer season, consider Ridgefield Raptors head coach Chris Cat’s schedule.

Kota, who in the spring runs the Canyon College baseball program in Santa Clarita, California, arrived in the Northwest on Wednesday night just hours before the Raptors opened the 2022 season with a 21-7 victory in the show game. against the black bears Kaulitz.

“I drove straight to my host family’s house, they had a car for me, and I drove right here,” said Kota, standing near the Raptors dugout an hour before the first submission to RORC.

“I didn’t even talk to three-quarters of these guys. It’s a “go”. ”

For the Raptors and their colleagues in the Collegiate Summer Forest Bats League, which has grown from 12 to 16 teams this season, this process will make the team jealous as well as manage a group of players at different stages of their careers with different goals in mind.

The Raptors are well acquainted with the return of players such as Will Chambers (State Dixie), Isaac Lownes (Pacific), Jet Lods (Oklahoma) and brothers Doyle Kane and Mikey Kane, both of whom play Cat in the Canyons, with the latter in currently committed to the USC.

Also, there are over 30 beginners, some of whom may come late due to college commitments, and possibly even some late scratches.

“You just try to sort things out. I don’t think you will ever be able to understand the summer ball, because it is always different, ”Kota said. “This year we may have 12 guys later. In a few years we may have four guys. It only matters where you take your players from and when your semester ends. We need to adjust every year. “

For a player and fan like Chambers, returning to Ridgefield was an easy task. The first is to reunite with our host family and fans, who, according to Chambers, “are what make us go. It’s easy to play for this team. “

It was also an opportunity to play again under the leadership of Kota, who coached Chambers in the Canyons before Chambers moved to the NCAA Baseball Division I in Dixie this year.

Last season, the Raptors went 26-22 and won their first ever team place in the WCL after the season. Much of the success, Chambers said, began with the culture the team nurtured.

“I think it works so well for us because with the environment we had last year, (and) I would imagine that the culture we’re re-creating this year is the culture we’re sick of. for everyone, ”Chambers said. “I think in many places it’s competitive in the wrong ways. Our competition: if you hit .500, I hope I reach .600. I try to defeat you in this sense … We want everyone to succeed and prosper. “

Chambers speaks from experience. In 2021, he committed eight home runs leading the WCL and then moved this year to Dixie, where he scored 0.247 with two home runs and 15 RBI.

“I have something to prove,” he said. “I came here as a guy last year who, everyone was going, I don’t know why he’s here. And then (I) proved it. Now this is my second year and I really have to prove it. Because once it’s cool, the second time – if you know that everything is fine. “

However, the summer ball goes far beyond victories and defeats.

While Kota and his staff are ultimately trying to help players improve before returning to their training programs, they also want players to enjoy the off-field experience and possibly return next season. if he fits.

“There are some guys who have never been to the Northwest Pacific,” Kota said. “It’s a different climate. It is a smaller city. I live in Southern California; you don’t drive past cows every day.

“Just enjoy everything, not just baseball, but on weekends in the mornings go out and see this place. Go downtown, go to the river (Colombia) … I try to tell them, go and feel it a little bit, and (you) will come back with more memories ”.

After Wednesday’s show, the Raptors will host “Wala Walla Sweets” in the series from Friday to Sunday, and then set off to play with the Kelowna Falcons on June 7-9, which will be the Raptors’ first trip to Canada since the 2019 inaugural season. year.

In the schedule of 2021 there was neither Kelavna nor Victoria. In addition, with the addition of teams in Springfield, Oregon, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Kamloops, British Columbia, and Edmonton, WCL has grown to 16 teams this season.

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