The Glendale College baseball team opens its season Friday at 2 p.m. against Yuba City College in the first round of the Foothill Tournament at Stengel Field.
The eight-team, double-elimination tournament, co-hosted by Glendale and Citrus colleges, includes Taft, El Camino, Riverside, Moorpark and Santa Barbara.
Glendale has seven sophomores from last season's team, which finished 23-12.
"We have great potential in all areas," said Steve Coots, who begins his 10th year as coach of the Vaqueros. "We've had periods (in scrimmages) where we've had great pitching, hitting and defense. But we've also had some periods where it hasn't been there. We'll see what happens."
Glendale returns to the Western State Conference after finishing second four consecutive times during four years in the disbanded Inland Valley Conference.
The 11-team WSC is broken up into two divisions. The Southern Division includes Glendale, defending state champion Canyons, Bakersfield, Moorpark, Santa Monica and Pierce. The Northern Division has Ventura, Santa Barbara, Hancock, Cuesta and Oxnard.
One of the key returnees for Glendale is Ron Ratliff, who hit nine home runs and was all-conference last season. Ratliff, who played second and third, will start at shortstop.
Junior Pena, voted the team's most valuable player last season when he was a utility player, will start at third. Pena batted .414 last season with 60 hits in 35 games.
Chris Kerr, a 6-4, 220-pound sophomore from Rosemead, hit .355 last season. He moves from designated hitter and backup first baseman to catcher.
Newcomers expected to make an immediate impact for the Vaqueros include freshmen outfielders Greg Vaughns, who played at Blair High, and Rex DeLaNuez from Hoover.
Glendale will play division members three times. To cut travel, Southern Division teams will play Northern Division teams twice, during five Saturday double-headers.
The schedule has WSC teams playing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with any rain-outs to be played on the following Friday. That schedule calls for a deep pitching staff. The Vaqueros, with just one returning pitcher, are hoping to hide what they lack in experience with aggressiveness.
Ken Brooks, a sophomore right-hander from San Gabriel, is the lone returnee and the probable starter Friday against Yuba.
Left-handers Bill Berry (Chatsworth), Rick Zubiate (Arroyo) and Chris DeVrieze (Bishop Amat) and right-handers Craig Foster (Hoover) and Charlie Williams (St. Francis) make up the staff.