The Wharton County Junior College Pioneers opened their 2020 baseball season on Friday, Jan. 31, and new head coach Trey Porras was ready.

“It’s an exciting time to be a Pioneer and I am fired up to lead this group of young men this season,” Porras said.

Porras takes the helm from Keith Case, who was promoted last year to WCJC’s athletic director. Case was the head baseball coach since 2014, with Porras serving as his assistant coach during the 2018-2019 season. Porras said Case has continued to serve as a mentor.

“Just like any new position, there have been new challenges along the way,” Porras said. “I am very fortunate to have Keith Case with his wealth of experience.”

Porras won’t have to shoulder the coaching responsibilities alone. He will turn to assistant baseball coach John Cannon, who also served previously under Case. 

“I feel like I can trust John with any and all aspects of the program,” Porras said. “I like to think that there isn’t a day that goes by that I make him feel like he’s working for me. We are always working together.”

Porras will receive additional assistance from Michael Molina, who will serve as a volunteer assistant coach. Molina played baseball at Sam Houston State University and has served as a scout for the Washington Nationals organization.  

The Pioneers are set to have a good season with seven returning players, four of whom started as freshmen. Porras will rely upon several players to take the lead: Alec Carr of Sugar Land, a Preseason All-American who last season led the state of Texas in junior college homeruns; Brandon Broughton of Corpus Christi, a strong hitter who has committed to play at St. Mary’s University following his WCJC career; Christian Vega of Katy, a University of the Incarnate Word transfer who will headline the pitching staff; Colby Wyers of Spring, a left-handed pitcher; and Trey Valka of Spring, a right-handed pitcher who transferred from the University of Arkansas. Three players from the surrounding area are also expected to play significant roles: Zach Lee from El Campo and Sweeny natives Nathan Nance and Quinton Martin. 

The Pioneers play in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Region XIV, one of the most competitive regions in Texas. Last season WCJC finished fourth in conference with an overall record of 28-28. The Pioneers baseball program has been ranked No. 35 in the nation for the 2020 season by the Junior College Baseball Blog.

According to Porras, being successful this season will require the players to not only work up to their individual talents, but to also bond as a team. 

 “Every one of them is talented, but if they try to do it all on their own it won’t work,” Porras said. “You have to rely on your brothers in the locker room and believe in the team.”

The 2020 season will be a pivotal year for the Pioneers as they play for the first time ever at WCJC’s Corbett Park, a new $1.7 million ballpark facility constructed on the Wharton campus. Porras said the park has been a literal “game changer” for the program. “Not only does it allow us to play on a professional grade playing surface, it helps out tenfold with recruiting,” he said. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all involved in making Corbett Park a reality, the WCJC baseball program is trending in the right direction.”

A grand opening event was held at the park at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2. Following the ceremony, the Pioneers took on the Coastal Bend College Cougars.

The season schedule can be found by visiting the college’s website, wcjc.edu

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