ELK GROVE, Calif (KTXL) – When it comes to baseball in our region, it’s tough not to notice what has gone on at Elk Grove High School for nearly 40 years now.
This year’s team is the top-ranked in the Sac-Joaquin Section and number 12 in the state.
“What we try to do is just embrace that challenge as sometimes, maybe, the villain,” said head coach Joe Bellotti. “Villain is not the right word, but you know, the approach we try to take on is that this is a challenge and we’ve been fortunate I think that the guys have bought in. And for the most part over the years, we’ve risen to that challenge.”
There are no playoffs this season, but the Elk Grove Thundering Herd is undefeated in the Delta League halfway through the schedule and gunning for an unprecedented 24th league title in the past 36 years.
“Without playoffs this season, I just want to be league champs. I don’t want to lose a game the rest of the season,” said senior pitcher and outfielder Sam Frizzi.
“We do a pretty good job and our history is doing pretty good,” said senior catcher Robert Whitaker. “So we want to carry on the legacy and do the best we can, especially the seniors here.”
Tradition runs deep for the Thundering Herd, including five current Major League players. And it’s easy to see what a motivator that is for this year’s team every time they step onto the field.
“To me, the tradition is you’re playing for those people that kind of paved the way,” Bellotti explained. “The names up on the fence, the guys playing professionally right now, I mean these are guys that check in on us, and I think that’s motivation for some of our guys as well.”
“Yeah, it definitely does drive me because you want to get up there also,” said senior infielder Eddie Madrigal.
Madrigal is the cousin of Chicago White Sox infielder Nick Madrigal, just the latest example of the revolving tradition that keeps Elk Grove High School baseball in the forefront year after year.
“Definitely nice to just kind of come back and see what they experienced and it’s definitely a great baseball program, so I’m kind of glad,” Madrigal said.
“You know, I think that getting to throw on that Elk Grove jersey, it is something special to our guys and they understand the importance of it,” Bellotti told FOX40.