Glendale Community College baseball player Edgar Montes will look to be a threat in the Vaqueros lineup this year.

Glendale Community College baseball player Edgar Montes will look to be a threat in the Vaqueros lineup this year. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / January 31, 2013)

With consecutive Western State Conference South championships and unprecedented postseason success in its back pocket, Glendale Community College’s baseball team finds itself in the hopeful position of success breeding more success.

“We’re excited. We think we’ve got a talented group of baseball players,” said GCC Coach Chris Cicuto, whose team leads off its season Friday against Rio Hondo. “The success of the program has helped with recruiting.

“The reputation of the program has definitely grown.”

Cicuto’s Vaqueros have combined to go 53-25 over the last two seasons, winning the aforementioned back-to-back WSC crowns and advancing to the postseason in the process, going all the way to state in 2011.

This time around, despite losing myriad all-conference selections, including All-American reliever KJ Edson and All-Southern California starting pitcher Cory Popham, GCC boasts a ballyhooed core of returners and a promising crop of newcomers.

“It’s gonna be a lot of work on the coaches to make sure the talent contributes in the right way,” Cicuto said.

Cicuto boasts a current roster of more than 40 players and he said just under half the team can pitch.

Leading the way at the dish is the 1-2 punch, or more accurately the 4-5 punch, of sophomores Edgar Montes and Austin Walker.

Montes, an all-conference selection a season ago who led the team with 13 doubles, five home runs and 31 runs batted in, is likely to hit fourth and play right field. Walker, whose season ended with a meniscus injury, will likely hit fifth and play the designated hitter spot. Walker hit .378 last season.

“Those two guys should be two of the top guys in the conference if they stay healthy,” said Cicuto, who’s won the last two coach of the year accolades for the conference. “Both of those guys have done some exciting things in practice.”

Julian Jarrard, who hit 20 RBI and 11 doubles last season in addition to winning a conference gold glove, will hit in the third spot and play third base.

“He’s got a very high ceiling,” Cicuto said of Jarrard. “He’s a very talented young man.”

Cicuto has added reason to be excited about his defense.

Sergio Plasencia returns to start at second base after taking home a national gold glove honor, while fellow sophomore Pepe Marquez will handle shortstop duties and sophomore Anthony Esparza is slated to be the starting catcher, though Cicuto said he has depth at the backstop, which is always a boon for the arduous position.

In addition to Montes, Cicuto will have freshmen Mike McCallister and Jay Sheely in left and center field, respectively.

“Nothing’s gonna fall in between those guys,” Cicuto said. “These guys fly.”

Sheely, who’s likely to lead off in the order, should also be a big base-stealing threat, which has become a trademark for the Vaqueros in recent seasons, as they’ve been aggressive and well-rounded offensively.

““It’s definitely something we take pride in,” Cicuto said. “Our goal is to put pressure on guys.”

On the bump, though Cicuto lost plenty, he’s plenty pleased with his new recruits.