Socorro right-hander Derek Lucero delivers to the plate against Mescalero.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

For Socorro’s first-year head coach, Lawrence Montano, the 2023 season will be about developing and fielding a competitive baseball team loaded with potential and pitching.

Baseball is generally tricky for New Mexico’s 3A teams because basketball is just ending, and there is spring break and educational trips to Paris, France, to get past.

Going to Paris ranks among the best excuses Montano may have heard. Still, like any good coach, he wants his players present and working toward contributing to the Warriors’ numbers.

Those numbers include a pitching staff where seven players can take the mound. While senior Marcus Armijo brings experience, he’s also coming out of basketball, and his arm still needs some repetitions.

Also on hand is sophomore David Gutierrez, Jr., and he gives Montano a left-handed edge that will come in handy when the Warriors enter District 3-3A play.

For Montano, it’s all about district play. When it comes that time, he hopes he has a good read on the Warriors’ pitching staff, including Cenyon Scarborough, Joe Rivera, Derek Lucero, Angel Perez and Warren Kurtnacker.

“We’ve got some kids who can throw, which is a lot better than where we have been in the past. They all need some work, and they need to find the strike zone,” Montano said.

The Warriors will also need to get into their groove at the plate and generate the runs to support Socorro’s pitching as players get into condition and season at their spots.

Until that happens, the Warriors will have their struggles as they did in Taos over a weekend and an 0-3 performance with losses to Taos (13-5), Tucumcari (13-2) and Bernalillo (17-0).

I’m going to be looking for team unity. Being a whole team as opposed to playing as individuals,” Montano said.

Coming together will take some time with Armijo on a trip to Florida and Gutierrez unavailable because he had to have his wisdom teeth pulled. Gutierrez’s dental problems also ruined his trip to Paris, where he couldn’t eat any of what many consider the world’s best cuisine. The state heavyweight wrestling champ lost 15 pounds, but Gutierrez is expected to be ready by district time.

“I consider this all just a learning experience and finding out where they’re at, what they got,” Montano “Where they need to work on and what we need to do so we can get ready for district is our only concern right now.”

According to Montano, the Warriors’ greatest strength right now is their effort.

“Their greatest strength is their work ethic. I mean, these guys work hard. They’re passionate about it. They put in the work. That’s their strength is they work hard. They don’t give up. They’re in the fight even when we’re down,” Montano said.

It doesn’t matter who Socorro is facing; Montano feels he will get 100 percent from his team.

“Against some of the bigger schools, we were down, and yeah, it was disheartening at first, but then, once they, you know, were able to calm them down ourselves, and we’re not all out of control. They understand that we have got to keep battling. We have got to keep doing what we can do. Nothing is important until we are in district, Montano said.

Alex Amaro is posting the Warriors’ best numbers at the plate, with a batting average of .333. Technically, sophomore Sebastian Mercado (4-11) has a slightly higher average of .364, but Amaro has almost three times the plate appearances with 29.

Socorro is on the road against Bosque on March 31 but will return home for a doubleheader against Hot Springs to open league play on April 5 in 3 and 5 p.m. games.