This year’s baseball team boasts 10 players from the Tri-River Athletic Conference
For Jordan Brink, Chris Mariscal, Jordan Luplow, Shota Runge and Taylor Tempel, competing on the diamond together is nothing new.
All five spent a majority of their years playing for the same teams while growing up in Fresno and Clovis.
All five would go on to play each other in arguably one of the best conferences in California high school baseball, the Tri-River Athletic Conference, home to Buchanan, Central, Clovis, Clovis East, Clovis West and Clovis North.
And all five were recruited by Fresno State, to help spur a return to Omaha and claim the final Western Athletic Conference Championship before the team switches to the Mountain West Conference next season.
“We have an outstanding recruiting class,” said head coach Mike Batesole. “We’re going to be really young and really local. You’re going to see five or six local guys on the field at a time.”
And that stands true for Batesole, whose freshmen class boasts five players from the TRAC, and 10 overall on the entire roster.
Batesole knows the TRAC will provide the necessary talent in order to claim yet another WAC championship and make a run at the College World Series.
“That last WAC championship is on the top of our list of goals,” he said.
As for the “TRAC Five,” they’re more than aware of the contribution they need to make.
“It’s going to be pretty cool representing the Valley,” said outfielder/infielder Luplow. “It’s been a great tradition here at Fresno State so we just want to keep that going and go out of the WAC with a win.”
Teammate Shota Runge knows that their previous connections will help the team bond even stronger on the field and carry on that Bulldog tradition.
“It’s really fun,” said the freshman out of Buchanan. “I mean we have a blast just playing with each other. We’ve known each other since middle school and [recently] we’ve just known each other for a while. It’s cool to see everyone together on one team. It helps our chemistry.”
The deep TRAC connection will not only benefit the team internally but can also provide support from the community to rally behind their hometown Bulldogs, said Batesole.
“Well our crowds are special.” Batesole said. “They fuel these guys. They push them. They’re a big part of our championships. They’re a big part of why we do well at home.”
“I think they’d love to see those local kids out there and the fact that they’re staying home now is a great compliment to not only our coaches who are recruiting them, but to what the players have done and set the stage they set that kids really want to come here now,” he added.
And for the “TRAC Five,” choosing to play in front of their hometown crowd was a major selling point.
“Well, it’s always fun to play here in your own backyard in front of your fans,” said infielder Mariscal. “We get to play with our friends that we played with in the TRAC so it’s going to be a fun experience.”
Regardless, infielder Jordan Brink knows their sights are on one goal during their next four years: Return to the College World Series and win Fresno State another national championship.
“That’s always been a dream and a goal ever since we all signed here,” Brink said. Everyone’s been working hard so hopefully we can repeat that.”