From being informed of the program's imminent suspension because of budget cuts to starting the season 3-9, the Moorpark College baseball team faced atypical obstacles this spring.
Yet the Raiders persevered to clinch a share of the Western State Conference title in the program's final scheduled game April 28.
Moorpark coach Mario Porto was rewarded for that run by being named Southern California Coach the Year by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association.
"I've known Mario forever and quitting isn't part of his makeup," said Ventura coach Don Adams. "They had the (budget decision). That puts you behind the eight ball. Then came the bad start and it's getting worse, but he somehow kept them together and guided them to that championship."
Porto ended his tenure as Moorpark coach the same way he started it in 1990, with a WSC North title.
"Mario has always said it's about the kids," said Adams. "The kids did a great job, but they had to have a leader to guide them. He kept the team together. That was his part."
Porto, who is spending the summer coaching the Bethesda (Md.) Big Train of the Cal Ripkin Collegiate Baseball League, said the honor was special because of who bestowed it.
"When your peers give you something like that, it means something," said Porto. "I feel good because they did that. As I told them, I just did what anybody else would have done. Regardless of the situation, you coach baseball."
Moorpark won 10 of 12 games from March 23 to April 17 to chase down first-place Cuesta and earned a share of the title with a come-from-behind 6-5 home win over Hancock April 28.
"Coach Porto is tough as nails," said sophomore Matt Toczynski. "He convinced us that we had a season to play and we came together... All we could do was battle and we started putting things together.
"This was probably one of the best teams I've ever played on, just because of that feeling."
Moorpark freshman Nick Rogowski joined Porto on the honor roll. The Virginia native, who led the Raiders in both hitting (.336) and pitching (3-5 with a WSC-best 1.65 ERA), was named to the CCCBCA All-American team.