Irvine Valley baseball coach Kent Madole is as excited about the 2015 season as he has been for a campaign in a while.
Irvine Valley opens the season on Tuesday at home against Imperial Valley at 2 p.m.
Madole has a solid core of returning players along with one of the best recruiting classes he has brought in over his 15 years with the program.
"There is an excitement around this team that hasn't been present for several years," Madole said.
"It all starts with the investment that was made with our facility. And that is thanks to our President (Glenn Roquemore), our Dean and Athletic Director (Keith Shackleford) and Jeff Hurlbut, who has stepped in as the leader in facilities and maintenance, and his team.
"The field, which is becoming state of the art, has completely changed the mindset of everyone out here. Everyone wants to play here and play on this field."
Madole has also been inspired by his coaching staff. Mike Rouse, Mike Martinez and Jeff Kaplan join him for a second season and Alex Agortsas is back for his fifth year with the program.
"I am so grateful for the commitment and work ethic they have," Madole said. "They are all true professionals in terms of their character and integrity. They bring the best out in me and are extremely unselfish guys. And their baseball pedigree is off the charts.
"How lucky am I to get to work with these guys. Mike Rouse played in a the big leagues. He was a Big West Conference player of the year at Cal State Fullerton. Jeff Kaplan was a two-time first team all-conference player at Irvine Valley that was on one of our best ever teams that made the Super Regionals in 2005. And then he became the No. 1 pitcher for Cal State Fullerton. He played in the College World Series, was named Big West Pitcher of the Year and got drafted.
"Mike Martinez is another guy that was a big-time player at Cal State Fullerton. He won a national championship there and then got drafted and is an unbelievable coach. Alex Agortsas is one of the best players and people to come through our program and he is becoming a heck of a coach. He is the only winner here of the prestigious "Iron I" award.
"I've never been around such good baseball people in my life."
Madole was just as enthusiastic about his players.
Hamilton led the team in hitting last season as a freshman. He batted .311 with two home runs, five doubles and 13 RBI.
Vargas batted .270 with 11 RBI. Zielinski made two starts on the mound, pitched in 10 games and threw 19 2/3 innings.
"Brett Hamilton is a five-tool guy and our team leader," Madole said. "Adam Vargas will be a starter and important player for us and Zach Vittetow will be an outstanding utility guy for us. Justin Zielinski returns on the mound and DePerry will be one of our catchers. I am proud of the way all of those guys have worked and what they continue to put into the program.
"And then our freshman group is very good with guys like Clint Jack, Dillon Millar, Robbie Espinosa and Jordan Gillerman to name a few of them. I could not be happier with the players that we have here and what they stand for.
"What I love most is the way these guys have bonded already. It is incredible. They love to be around each other and can't wait to get started and play games."
After taking on Imperial Valley on Tuesday, Irvine Valley will host LA Valley in a pair of games this weekend. IVC will take on LA Valley at home on Friday at 2 p.m. and then on Saturday at 12 p.m.