CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coastal Bend has a rich tradition of producing some of the best high school baseball talent in Texas. And that's why Texas A&M-Corpus Christi head baseball Scott Malone loves to recruit locally.
In his 14 years as the leader of the program, he has seen nearly 100 players from South Texas wear the blue and green.
"The expectations for these kids are so high, they are coached to win," said Malone. "They do all the little things so well. It makes it easy when they get to us and we just try to push them to the next level."
Five former South Texas high school products are suiting up for the Islanders this year including former Calallen standouts pitcher John Gaddis and first baseman Bryce Balusek.
"You know I just love this program," said Balusek. "This was a great opportunity to stay close to my family and I thought it was the best choice for me"
Many of the local players say being able to play in front of family and friends for their college careers is a priceless experience.
"Playing here is like playing in your own backyard," said former Moody pitcher Dom Lopez. "Lots of teams from all over the country will come here to play and we get to show off our backyard."
Former Bishop pitcher Nic Hernandez feels extra comfortable playing at TAMU-CC.
"I grew up with some of these players and I love being around them," Hernandez said.
Another local product is former Sinton pitcher Mason Hopkins who is expected to see plenty of action on the mound this season.
The Islanders will open the regular season Feb. 19 when they host UT-Arlington at Chapman Field.