Sacramento State sophomore pitcher Tanner Mendonca improved his overall performance this season with a lowered earned run average of 3.80 from last season’s 5.73 ERA. He credits his improvement to his offseason work as well as guidance from teammates and coaches.
Mendonca was named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week in April for his second shutout against CSU Bakersfield following his shutout against CSU Northridge in February.
He said the team and coaching staff contributed to his improvement by learning from their example on and off the field.
“Learning the game and being around these players and coaches helps me understand the game more,” Mendonca said. “I try to work hard each day to get better and that’s what really helped me out this year.”
He said pitchers such as junior Brandon Creel, sophomore Dallas Chadwick and senior R.J. Davis gave him pointers to better his game.
“Chadwick helped me out with a curveball, Creel and R.J. have been helping me out with a changeup” Mendonca said. “We try to help each other out and tell each other our secrets to get better.”
Hornets’ assistant coach Thad Johnson said part of Mendonca’s improvement is from his consistent pitching velocity and added variety to his pitches.
“Last year he was predominantly just a two-pitch guy: he would throw a fastball, obviously, and a cutter,” Johnson said. “This year he has added a breaking ball, a changeup and is becoming more of a pitcher who can compete with more than one pitch.”
Johnson said Mendonca’s failures and successes from the previous season validated his place on the team and developed a good pitcher’s mentality.
“When he didn’t have that much success I think it toughened him up a little and motivated him to be better than he was a year ago,” Johnson said.
Head coach Reggie Christiansen said Mendonca’s mentality and knowledge attributed to his progression this season.
“He has matured physically and mentally,” Christiansen said. “I think he has also really understood more of the game itself and what he needs to do make himself successful.”
Christiansen said the transition Mendonca made from freshman to sophomore is another notable element contributing to his improvement.
“The process of a player in any stage once they go from freshman to sophomore is to really start to feel comfortable in the college and baseball environment,” Christiansen said.
Looking forward, Johnson said Mendonca’s improvement and experience will be a key factor in leading the team in the upcoming seasons.
“When Tanner goes out there to pitch and he just exudes confidence and everyone can take that to be confident, be a warrior and extremely aggressive,” he said.
Additional Comments about Tanner Mendonca
Teammate David del Grande
“His work ethic is incredible, he works just as hard as anyone on the team and he’s a perfectionist. He makes sure every day he accomplishes what he sets out to do.”
Teammate Brandon Creel
“A lot of pitchers look at him as one of the best guys on the team and he’s not one that needs to speak up: he shows that by putting in the work gets the job done in the game.”
Joe de Ocampo can be reached at email@example.com.