Coming to Winter Garden from Texas, it didn’t take long for the Squeeze’s Taylor Becerra to notice a significant difference in his new locale — plenty of precipitation.
“The first week we were down here we got more rain than we got in a full year in Texas — it’s definitely different,” Becerra said. “I’m not used to a field that can drain [excess rain water]. Normally if we get rain [in Texas], we’re rained out for two or three days.”
Becerra certainly isn’t alone in his adjusting to some of the details of Florida-living for the summer.
The rising sophomore at Grayson County College and Coppell, Texas native is joined on the Winter Garden roster by seven other native Texans — including Cory Scheibner, a teammate at Grayson.
The “Southwest connection” isn’t limited solely to players who hail from Texas, either. Another five players either are from the Southwest, from states including Arizona and New Mexico, or attend school there.
Squeeze general manager Adam Bates credits the ties head coach Ruben Felix, who was an assistant at Texas Tech prior to his current post as the lead assistant coach for UCF Softball, and assistant coach Tony Perez, who coaches junior college ball in Texas, have cultivated over the years to the strong regional presence on the Winter Garden roster.
It’s also not uncommon for a Florida Collegiate Summer League team, says Bates.
“Honestly throughout the league, if you get into the [roster] make-up of a couple of teams, [it’s] ‘where are their [the coaches’] connections?’” Bates said. “Those kids [from the Southwest] have really gelled and then our mixture of local kids and everything has really made this some awesome camaraderie.”
Coming from across the country to a new place, Becerra said it has been a bonus to have other players on the roster who share a common home state.
“It definitely helps out because you make more connections and you’re used to people where you’re from — I know their personalities and how to talk to ‘em,” Becerra said.
As for the on-the-field effects of having a strong Texas connection, Felix says that he likes having the players without any previous ties to the area on his roster, believing them to be a little extra motivated to make an impression.
“These kids that come from far away, they’ll have more things to prove — they’re out here playing in a league where no one knows them,” Felix said. “It’s good for us to bring a different mixture of guys to Florida.”
Finally, for a collegiate summer baseball league that is still relatively young — the FCSL was founded in 2003 — the more players that come from a variety of different locales can only help in building up the league’s reputation.
“Ultimately, you want to grow the league,” Felix said. “It helps to have some guys from different programs.”
The following players on the roster for the Winter Garden Squeeze either are from the Southwest United States or play for a school there:
Chace Sarchet, OF — Lubbock, Texas
Matt McLean, OF — Plano, Texas
Zane Ancell, OF — Lubbock, Texas
Matthew Reyes, OF/IF — Midland, Texas
Clint Harris, IF — Mansfield, Texas
Jaime Gurrola, IF — El Paso, Texas
P.J. Garcia, IF — Waddell, Ariz.
Zakariah Felix, IF — Albuquerque, NM.
Damon Collada, IF — Vernon Regional JC (Texas)
Cory Scheibner, P — Allen, Texas
Carlos Perez, P — New Mexico JC
Bradley Paramapoonya, P — Texas Permian Basin (U of)
Taylor Becerra, P/OF — Coppell, Texas