Youth from the South County Titans, a travel baseball team, use a lateral shuffle to work on speed and maintain good posture. (Michael Ramirez/Staff)

SALINAS VALLEY — Gonzales resident Anthony Mena used some time off during the pandemic to form a travel baseball team for youth under 8 years old.

Mena enjoys the challenge of coaching youth from the ground up, where skills can be developed.

“I used to coach 9- to 10-year-old kids and saw how they lacked skills that they needed to play competitive baseball,” Mena said. “I just didn’t like to see how bad habits kept the players from becoming better players. Now that my kids are old enough to play baseball, I want them to learn the skills they will need on the playing field.”

Mena intended to just put together an 8-and-under travel team, but with youth coming out to enroll from South Monterey County and Salinas, there was a need to create a 7-and-under team, as well.

“I am trying to model by team, like the teams in Carmel and the Toro area, where kids are playing competitive baseball even at 6 years old,” Mena said. “Right now we have players from Gonzales, Soledad, King City and a few players from Salinas on the teams, and that shows that kids want to play baseball at another level. Gonzales did not have a Little League program this year, so I am happy we have a program that the kids can train for and improve their skills. We kind of run our practices like a baseball clinic, where the kids work on agility, balance, conditioning and baseball fundamentals.”

Assisting Mena with the two South County Titans teams are David Castaneda, Andrew Lujan, Casey Aguilar and Henry Ventura III.

The 8-and-under Titan team will be participating in upcoming tournaments in July and August, and the 7-and-under team is also looking to get into a few tournaments.

“We have received lots of support from many sponsors,” Mena said. “The price of taking a travel team on the road can be expensive, but we want to be able go to as many tournaments as possible and play and train until about early October.”

For information on the South County Titans teams, call Anthony Mena at 909-992-9346 or email [email protected].

Working on resistance running with a Hecostix helps the young ball players with hand and eye coordination. (Michael Ramirez/Staff)
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