A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC Baseball: To the Grave

Nick Vides
(Left to Right) Sophomores of the 2023-2024 baseball team that are moving on: Gabe Henschel, Aidan Lombardi, Quinn Medin, Zane Bennett, Jake McCoy, Michael O’Daniel, Keenan Morris, Alex Leopard, Jacob Greiner, Tony Suarez, Eli Yamanaka and Hekili Robello, shown here on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Santa Rosa.

The Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team’s season ended prematurely in the CCCAA Super Regional playoffs. Though the team didn’t accomplish their ultimate goal of winning a state championship, there is much to celebrate after another winning season. 

The Bear Cubs finished the season with a 31-15 overall record, good for second in the Big 8 conference, and the teams second straight season with more than 30 wins.

The lineup did not disappoint, as the Bear Cubs had eight hitters hit over .280 and six hitters with five or more home runs. While less of a strength than the lineup, there were three Bear Cubs pitchers with ERAs at 2.50 or below. 


Oak Leaf Awards

MVP – Alex Leopard

With a .364 average, 12 home runs, 56 RBIs and excellent defense in center field, Leopard was an obvious choice for MVP. The UCSD commit was near the top of every offensive category and a consistently tough out in every at bat of 2024.

Bear Cubs Outfielder and pitcher Alex Leopard is all smiles after hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the first against Modesto Junior College on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Santa Rosa. (Nick Vides)

Cy Young – Hekili Robello

In a whopping 104 innings, Robello posted a 2.16 ERA with 94 strikeouts. He excelled most at keeping the ball in the zone, only walking 14 batters all season.

Hekili Robello pitches for seven innings against Chabot College in the second round of the CCCAA Super Regionals in Hayward on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Gold Glove – Keenan Morris

While only six errors in 124 total chances is impressive, the stats don’t quite do Morris justice. He excelled at making the difficult plays look routine and you could usually count on a diving catch over at third every game.

Alex Leopard and Keenan Morris leap up in the air after Leopard hits a home run in the bottom of the eighth to secure two more runs against American River College at Santa Rosa’s Cook Sypher Field on Thursday, April 25, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Freshman of the Year – Josh Martin

Martin wasn’t flashy by any means, but he did everything exceptionally well. As a true freshman he hit .295 with five home runs and 38 RBIs. Most impressive is his only eight strikeouts all season, while playing all nine innings at first base every single game. 

High fives all around as Josh Martin makes his way through the dugout after a home run in the bottom of the first inning against Cosumnes River College at Santa Rosa’s Cook Sypher Field on Saturday, March 30, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

Honorable Mentions – Jake McCoy, Zane Bennett, Aidan Lombardi, Cameron Duran, Mason Cox, Collin Medeiros, Luke Schat


To the Grave

In a final team meeting of the season, several sophomores spoke about what the team has meant to them.

Alex Leopard: “I’m gonna miss playing with those guys and I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. I really enjoyed the time I had at Santa Rosa and it will always have a special place in my heart.”

Hekili Robello: “It’s emotional. What we’ve built these past two years, the brotherhood. We’ve been fighting so hard. The coaching staff and the learning experiences. Damon was probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He’s taught me many things, and all of us, we grew.”

Aidan Lombardi: “I’m definitely sad that it’s over. It took some time to sink in after the loss, for sure. It didn’t feel real when we first lost at first. The last couple days of not coming out here with the routine we had every day, it’s definitely starting to hit harder.”

Quinn Medin: “It was a very surreal moment when we lost. We ended in a pretty devastating fashion, but I’m always going to cherish my time I had here, and everything I learned from Damon [Neidlinger], the coaches, my teammates, just all the lessons. I’ll take that into wherever I end up and face adversity with the same mindset.”

Jake McCoy: “Losing the way we did hurts a lot more.The whole team just dropped to the ground, and it was just about everything we put into it just coming to an end like that. It definitely doesn’t feel the best. But, you know, hindsight can’t change anything that happened. Now we all just got to move on.”

Zane Bennett: “It hurts, but I’m super grateful for what we all had here, all the relationships that we made, what we learned from Damon and what we learned from the game. I’m just grateful for my time here. This sucks, but that’s what life is, so I’m grateful for it.”

Keenan Morris: “The program has meant a lot to me over the last three years and I think it will continue to mean a lot to me. Everyone involved in the program has worked so hard and we’ve spent so much time together. I think that’s created a special bond between everyone on the team.”

The 2023-2024 Bear Cubs baseball team with Oak Leaf Photographer Yna Bollock, on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Santa Rosa. (Nick Vides)
Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Oliver Kindt
Oliver Kindt, Reporter
Oliver Kindt (he/him) is a journalism major in his second semester at SRJC and first at The Oak Leaf. He is an aspiring sports writer who will be covering primarily baseball and softball this spring.
Yna Bollock
Yna Bollock, Reporter
Yna Bollock is in her first semester with the Oak Leaf. She has been working on prerequisites for the last two semesters and is elated to begin major specific requirements for the journalism program, specifically photojournalism. Prior to pursuing a photojournalism degree, she graduated from SRJC’s culinary program in 2013. In 2020, following a layoff from the hospitality industry, Yna graduated from the CNA program in June in an effort to stay gainfully employed throughout the pandemic. Now in 2024, she is on track to graduate with a bachelor’s of arts in photojournalism.
Nick Vides
Nick Vides, Photo-Editor
Nicholas “Nick” Vides (he/him) Is a seasoned breaking news reporter dedicated to making sure every shutter click of his camera captures a moment worth sharing. Nick's itch for chasing fires has kept him busy over the past seven years, covering every major fire event in Northern California from the Paradise Fire to the Caldor Fire. Nick currently splits his time as a photojournalist with The Oak Leaf and as a Contract Photographer with The Press Democrat. He has more than nine years of experience with photography, has been director of photography for multiple short films with the SRJC Media Arts Center, directed numerous student-led broadcasts with his Media 19 class, and interned for The Sarah and Vinnie Show on Alice 97.3. In the little free time left, he works for Highway 12 Winery in Sonoma, California as a Cellar Hand.  

Comments (0)

All Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *