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In the past 7 years the Mustangs have reached the Final Four three times: 2014, State Champions in 2011, and 2nd in 2009, and made the Elite 8 in 2013. During that time there have been 8 drafted players, 24 Division 1 transfers, 24 Division 2 transfers and 22 NAIA transfers.
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Players: Delta's the Place to Be
The Mustangs are eyeing their third appearance in the state final
since coach Reed Peters arrived at Delta in 2008.Clifford Oto/The Record
By Bob Highfill
May 16, 2014
Record Sports Editor
May 16, 2014
STOCKTON - Delta baseball has a long, proud history.
Former major league reliever Eddie Guardado is among the scores of former Delta baseball players who went on to have fulfilling collegiate or professional careers.
But since 2008, when coach Reed Peters arrived in Stockton from Feather River College, the Mustangs have enjoyed unprecedented sustained success. Not long ago, area talent considered Delta to be a fall-back position. Now, it's a sought-after destination.
"It's definitely the college to go to," said sophomore pitcher Alex Lott out of Lodi, who has signed with Nevada. "You have kids from across America who want to go to Delta."
The No. 2 Mustangs (31-9) already have strengthened their reputation by winning the Big 8 Conference this season, and they are playing for more this weekend. For the second year in a row and for the fourth time under Peters, Delta is in the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California Sectionals and will face Big 8 rival and third-seeded Santa Rosa (29-11) in a best-of-three series for the right to compete in the CCCAA Final Four next week at Fresno City College. The Mustangs are working toward adding a state championship to those earned in 1959 and 2011 - Peters' fourth season.
"I always looked at it like I don't want to go to Delta," said third-year sophomore center fielder Phil Clark, a Stagg graduate. "But once (Peters) got here, it was like, this is a stepping stone. It's like another chance out of high school."
Clark's perception about Delta changed with the team's state runner-up finish in 2009 and the state title in 2011.
"In my eyes, it looked like the program to go to," the Mustangs' leadoff hitter said. "When they ended up winning state, that's what really made my decision, where this program is going to get me somewhere."
Sophomore catcher Colin Theroux, who is from San Mateo, transferred to Delta this season from Nevada.
"Things didn't really work out with the new coaching staff at Nevada this year and everyone I talked to was pointing me in the direction of Delta," said Theroux, who is hitting .306 with two home runs and 26 RBI. "I didn't really know anybody on the team or anything about the program, but the word was that they win, they move guys on and the coaches are awesome. And to me, you couldn't ask for anything else, and that's what it's been."
In Peters' first six seasons, eight Delta players have been drafted by major league clubs, 24 have advanced to Division I, 24 to Division II and 22 to NAIA institutions. This season, besides Lott, pitchers Matt Valencia (Hawaii), Sean Bennetts (Pacific), Sam Held (Nevada), Nick Camarena (Hawaii-Pacific) and Brennon Williams (Fresno State) have signed with four-year universities.
Sophomore first baseman C.J. Owens out of St. Mary's said high school and college transfers want to play for a coach who will help them develop and advance. For him and many others, Peters is the coach.
"Kids choose to come here now because they see all of the success," said Owens, who hits cleanup and is batting .310 with 32 RBI. "We just won the Big 8 title, we have the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. They see that they give us a lot of opportunities here, they'll promote you and they push us hard in the classroom. They just want us to be a student-athlete first."
Lott said Peters and his assistants care about the person, not just the player.
"I had like a 2.6 (grade-point average) in high school and now I have almost a 3.5," said Lott, who has filled the closer and third-starter roles this season. "(Peters has) pushed me to get better and it's forced me to do better in school."
Sophomore left fielder Wyatt Castro, the co-Big 8 Most Valuable Player, said Peters and his assistants have helped him develop from being predominantly a pull hitter, who didn't know much about baseball coming out of Antelope High, into a better-conditioned athlete who uses the entire field at the plate.
"The weights really pushed me to be better," said Castro, who is fourth statewide hitting .410. "I was a chubby kid coming out of high school. I didn't know much about the game. I know a lot now.
"Peters teaches us a lot about when to steal bases, when to hit to each side of the field. He just makes baseball a lot easier to understand."
Peters said he leans heavily on his staff, led by ninth-year pitching coach Denny Peterson with Chris Rodriguez, Mat Keplinger, Pat Kelly and Joe Piombo. Peters said recruits have been more receptive in recent years than when he arrived at Delta after helping lead Feather River to two Golden Valley Conference championships in his four seasons. His coaching background also includes stints at the Air Force Academy, Colby (Kan.) Community College and UNLV, where he played and graduated in 1992.
"It's been a lot easier in terms of getting them to be receptive," Peters said. "It's always tough to get kids receptive to coming to junior college because they all think they're Division I players."
Now, it seems more baseball players believe they can get to Division I, if they go to Delta.
Contact sports editor Bob Highfill at (209) 546-8282 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bobhighfil
As his father did, Patterson stars for UC Davis baseball team
Published: Thursday, Apr. 10, 2014 - 9:25 pm
Fred Patterson knew early that the youngest of his three sons was destined to follow in his cleats.
“Steven was always tagging along with his plastic bat and ball,” said Fred, a former standout at UC Davis who later played adult baseball while coaching his two older sons, Maurice and James, in youth ball. “We’d be at six to eight games in a week, and you could see even then he loved the game. But I never made him bat left-handed. That was something he decided to do on his own.”
Having watched his father play in the adult league, Steven Patterson started swinging left-handed, mowing down grandma’s front-yard tulips at age 5. Now a 21-year-old senior at his father’s alma mater and playing the same position, second base, Steven credits his powers of observation, a skill he carried through youth and high school and into college.
“I was born a right-hander,” Steven said. “To this day, I do everything right-handed, including golf. But the first time I really noticed my dad was hitting left-handed, I decided to turn around and hit like him.”
Like father, like son.
Steven batted .324 last season for the Aggies, the same average his father compiled 35 years ago at UC Davis. Fred points out that he played in Division II , which is why he marvels at his son’s accomplishments in the highly regarded Big West Conference.
“Steven has worked so hard to get where he is,” Fred said. “The training and the demands are a lot different now. I was a baseball player growing up, but I did football in college to pass the time. You can’t do that anymore.”
Last season, Patterson drove in 33 runs and made second-team All-Big West. He was the seventh-toughest player to strike out in the nation in Division I, whiffing once every 20.4 at-bats. This season, Patterson leads the Aggies with 18 RBIs, is second in slugging percentage at .453 and is third in hitting at .321.
Patterson is one of 30 players nominated for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award recognizes those across the country who perform well in the community, classroom and on the field.
In June, Patterson hopes to be selected in the major-league draft, which would be impressive considering he had no scholarship offers coming out of St. Mary’s High School in Stockton and had to attend community college to improve his status from all-hit, suspect defender to all-around player.
San Joaquin Delta College coach Reed Peters recalled Patterson’s game as a little rough and his body as a little too soft.
“He came to us as a one-tool guy who showed a little power,” said Peters, the brother of former UC Davis coach Rex Peters. “He was a little roly-poly and didn’t have the greatest hands in the world for an infielder.”
But Patterson worked incessantly to get better.
An undersized linebacker in high school, Patterson began to add muscle to his 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame. He took countless ground balls and worked overtime to improve his timing and agility.
As a freshman, he helped Delta win the 2011 California Community College state championship, then as a sophomore third baseman became an All-American as he averaged .380, hit six home runs and drove in 33 runs.
“Going to Delta was one of the best decisions I made,” Patterson said. “It allowed me to continue to learn the game so I could be 100 percent ready physically and mentally to play at the D-I level.”
Despite numerous schools showing interest, Patterson wanted to play for his father’s alma mater. Having attended UCD football games growing up, he had come to like the campus and community, and, much like Patterson’s game, UC Davis’ baseball team was under the radar with something to prove.
With All-Big West third baseman Paul Politi returning for his senior season, Patterson found himself playing second base at UC Davis. With his left-handed swing more potent than ever, he likely has raised his draft stock, even though he was bypassed after his junior season.
“I think he’s going to get a shot,” said Peters, who reached Triple A in the Angels and Giants organizations. “He’s a left-handed hitter with pop who now can play second, third and even a little outfield. He’s made himself into a player.”
If the pros don’t call, Patterson should graduate with a degree in communications in the fall. He could join his father, who founded a company that videotapes high school and youth sports.
Patterson also could find his way into coaching.
He received his CLASS Award nomination partly for his work with children, teaching baseball skills at youth camps and St. Mary’s, where his father coached junior varsity baseball for six seasons.
“I enjoy giving back to the game and teaching kids the way that I’ve been taught,” Patterson said. “I feel I’ve been taught the right way: Give 100 percent, use the fundamentals and respect the game.”
San Joaquin Delta College