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Bulldogs' roster loaded with talent
Senior Robert Cope feels comfortable in clutch situations.

"If you're not having fun, then you need to do something else," the Ceres High varsity baseball slugger said. "There's no pressure. Pressure's having a wife and three kids to support."

Cope and his Bulldog teammates enter the 2009 season with an abundance of confidence.

"I think we're going to compete a lot better than we did last year," he said. "We're more of a team. We have a lot of key players. We just don't have one guy."

Added co-head coach Julio Marquez: "Our lineup is really solid and our bench is strong. We can only get better."

Cope garnered first-team, all-league accolades as a junior. He batted a team-best .439 (18-for-41) with one homer, two doubles, 11 walks, 12 runs, eight RBIs and just three strikeouts. The 2007 VOL Offensive Player of the Year managed to have a stellar season despite being pitched around.

"I just want to hit the ball hard all year," Cope said.

Other returnees expected to contribute include Dustin Baisdon (OF, So.), Martino Bertolotti (IF, Sr.), Tyler Cummings (P/3B, So.), Jimmy Chesney (P/IF, Sr.) and Grant Hurst (RF/C, Sr.).

Promoted to varsity after the Bulldogs' first two league games as a freshman, Baisdon earned second-team honors. The outfielder batted .389 (15-for-43) with two doubles, 11 runs and nine RBIs.

Bertolotti was an honorable-mention selection. The junior infielder batted .386 (17-for-44) with three triples, two doubles, four stolen bases, 15 runs and 15 RBIs.

Ceres High's 15-player roster features nine newcomers: Josh Edwards (SS, Jr.), Chad Atchison (3B/P, Jr.), Mark Schwark (OF/Jr.), Doug Davis (OF, Jr.), Josh Jones (OF, Jr.), Dalton Lane (1B/Jr.), Tyler Brenning (1B/P, So.), Bryson Waring (P/OF, Fr.) and Nick Welsh (LF, Fr.)

"Our pitching staff is going to be key," Marquez said. "We have four starters (Cummings, Chesney, Waring and Baisdon). Our defense has improved. Our speed is better than last year. That's going to open a lot of doors by putting pressure on other teams."

Ceres High (6-8) finished in a three-way tie for fifth in the league standings behind Oakdale, East Union, Sierra and Manteca last year. The VOL will send only two teams, down from three, to the playoffs this season.

"I think we can beat anybody," Marquez said. "I really believe that."