Every team looks for a newer member to step up and make contributions, and Fossil Ridge’s baseball team is no exception.
Among the players making that step up is a familiar one. Well, at least the last name is familiar.
Cesar Gomez, a junior pitcher who also sees time in the Panthers’ outfield, has been keeping some fans feeling a bit of deja vu.
Another Gomez – Victor – was on the Panthers’ squad last year, and although the older brother is now playing at the collegiate level, he’s been available to continue to give pointers to his younger brother.
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To some extent, though, the younger Gomez is doing fine without sibling intervention.
Gomez is hitting over .300 and has been placed in the upper half of the lineup, either fourth or fifth.
His pitching has helped balance a Fossil Ridge team that is in fourth place heading into this week’s play against Central.
“On the mound, I’m doing great,” Gomez said.
His ERA has been about 0.50, which was bolstered by his shutout against Denton Ryan last week. When he’s not on the mound, Gomez patrols right field.
But in his first year on the varsity squad, Gomez admits he still has plenty to learn, especially as the team is loaded with sophomores following last year’s graduation of 13 players.
“My brother has told me it’s all about location and staying calm,” he said. “Victor told me that they’re going to hit the ball, so just leave it to the good defense behind you. Just relax and breathe.”
And, although Gomez is slowly getting back to 100 percent following a minor car accident, he said he’s not quite the same, but continues to do plenty of stretching of his lower leg and back.
“I know it’s a process,” Gomez said of getting back to full form and over the pain. “I know I won’t just wake up and it’ll be gone.”
Although the team is young, Gomez can tell the team has raw talent and what it doesn’t achieve this year, it will be even more poised to accomplish next year.
Not that Ridge has written off this season by any means. It’s positioned to return to the playoffs and once there, the players know anything can happen.
“We have plenty of pitching and a good rotation,” Gomez said. “It’s always important to take the next game and then the next game.”
It’s also about the six seniors who are looking to close their high school careers on a high note, Gomez said.
“They deserve it and they’ve been working hard. We want to end on a good note for the seniors,” he added.
The visits by Victor are a confidence booster for Gomez and likely to the other Panthers this year.
“He still talks with me and the others,” Gomez said. “He comes down and makes sure I’m doing well. My goal is to keep building up and have better discipline. To keep working is my goal.”
But for now, the focus is helping the team take one more step closer to the playoffs.
“Central is next week and I hope we can come back,” Gomez said after splitting the series with Ryan after a loss on Friday. “We want to set ourselves up in a good spot to make the playoffs. It’s all about the next game.”