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PenCities Enjoys Freelance Schedule

By Talya Franco - SM Daily Journal, 08/03/19, 5:00AM PDT

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PenCities White Sox baseball team — a travel squad comprised of college players and recent high school graduates — made a decision to go the non-traditional route of creating a dream schedule outside of league play.

Previously, the White Sox played in the Palomino Division of PONY Baseball. This year, they were given the freedom of building their dream schedule for the summer.

“It ended up being super convenient and they (players) are all are grown up and independent,” said White Sox manager Lenny Souza. “Yes, we were not as legitimized (not playing in a league), but we played teams that were the best in their league.”

A benefit of going the non-traditional route for summer baseball was it allowed Souza to manage the innings the way that he wanted so all his players received playing time. Mario Vargas, a Burlingame graduated who redshirted his freshman year at College of San Mateo, saw a lot of time on the mound for the White Sox this summer, to get him ready for his upcoming season with the Bulldogs.

“He was really good this summer. He got a lot of playing time,” Souza said of Vargas. “We had plenty of depth and we learned a lot and the kids learned a lot more.”

Their record for the season came to 17-9-1 after playing some of the best teams around California. Three of those losses came during a five-game road trip to San Diego, which included games against teams with multiple Division I college players. Their week consisted of one game Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was a off day then a doubleheader Saturday to finish off the trip. Souza set up the schedule to keep his players as fresh as possible.

“I wouldn’t let [pitchers] go past four innings because when you’re going past four innings, you’re stressing their arms and why do that when you have depth?” Souza said.

Looking toward the summer of 2020, Souza expects a full roster and is already planning what the schedule will look like for the team. He already decided on a road trip to Hawaii to compete against some new competition.

“Eighty percent of my guys will be back next summer,” Souza said. “I think we will turn down league play next year because it worked out really well. A lot of kids really liked the idea and you can play all the top teams whenever we want to bulk up the schedule.”