WATSONVILLE — Leroy Dozal, a 1988 Hollister High graduate and Cal Sate Hayward alumnus, has been named the head coach of the Watsonville High baseball program, the school’s Athletic Director Mark Northcutt recently told the Register-Pajaronian.
Dozal met with a dozen prospective players on Wednesday afternoon at the school’s baseball field. He said the kids were as advertised and is excited to once again be a head coach for the first time since starting the Anzar High Hawks baseball program back in 2000.
“It’s been a while so I’m very excited,” Dozal said. “I’ve missed the game.”
While he has not served as a head coach since leaving Anzar in 2007, Dozal has kept close to the game over the years. The past two seasons he was an assistant at Christopher High under coach Adam Perez, who is now the head coach at Westmont High, and before that he coached little league and other levels of youth baseball throughout San Benito County. He also served as an assistant at Hollister in the ‘90s.
After recently completing his master’s degree and earning a teaching credential, Dozal was hired at Lakeview Middle School roughly a month ago as a special day teacher for students with autism. A few weeks later, former Watsonville head coach James Gomez decided to retire. Dozal said it was the perfect opportunity for several reasons.
“It was the love of the game, the school, the area,” Dozal said. “I’m from Hollister so I’ve always really like how the community is always into their sports teams, as well as parents and everyone else. It’s really the tight-knit community, which I grew up in. You build lifelong friendships and that’s kind of what I want to install here.”
Dozal takes over for the aforementioned Gomez, who after 19 seasons with the Wildcatz decided to step away for the foreseeable future.
Dozal said his goal is to continue to build on the program’s recent resurgence. Watsonville won its first league championship since the ’90s in 2015 and has made the Central Coast Section playoffs in four of the last five seasons.
Last year they notched 18 wins and finished second in the Monterey Bay League Pacific division. They were eliminated by Dozal and the Christopher Cougars in the first round of the CCS Division I bracket.
“Watsonville, I feel like baseball is in their blood here,” Dozal said. “The kids were just relentless. They never gave up and they went after it. That’s the same way I’ve always felt. I always tell the kids don’t play against the uniform, play against the ball.”
After graduating from Hollister in ’88, Dozal played two seasons at Gavilan College before transferring to Cal State Hayward. The former slugger said he would run the Watsonville team similar to a college program, spending individual time where needed and focusing on the small tweaks that make a big difference.
“I want to get a feel for what they’ve been doing in the past and see what I can implement,” Dozal said. “I like to run the program similar to that of a college program in regards to everything.”
Dozal said he has yet to fill out the assistant coaching roles but has reached out to a few people recently and has also left the door open for Watsonville alumni to help, too.
Watsonville could potentially have 10 players return from last year’s team. MBL-P Pitcher of the Year Gio Gonzalez and all-league infielders Ryan Rivera and Maximilian Ramirez IV headline the crop of players.
“This is great that the kids are here,” said Dozal, mentioning the student-athletes that showed if only for a few minutes before heading to football and basketball practice. “They’re ready to go. That’s the easiest thing for the coach, when there’s self-motivation. That’s what we strive for. Kids that have the heart and a love for the game are the most coachable kids. It’s exciting. That’s what I’m looking for.”