Chris Pedretti always planned on being back.
After 30 years at the helm of the Merced College baseball team he decided to try something different in 2013.
The winningest coach in Blue Devil history took a one-year sabbatical to travel around the state and learn what other schools were doing to move their student athletes on to the next level.
Pedretti said the fact-finding mission proved both interesting and informative, but the time away did nothing to diminish his fire for the game.
Pedretti announced that he will be back penciling in lineup cards when the Blue Devils take the field in 2014.
"That was always the plan," said Pedretti, who has 723 career wins. "It would have had to be something major to convince me not to come back.
"I really enjoyed visiting the 20-plus schools that I went to and learning what they do for their student athletes.
"I enjoyed getting to see Tynan (Pedretti's son) in multiple games in his senior year (at Cal State Stanislaus). And it was kind of fun going to the Merced College games and seeing how Nate (Devine) and the other coaches did things."
Devine, Pedretti's longtime pitching coach, took over the reigns in 2013. The Blue Devils went 22-14 this season, getting knocked out of the playoffs in the NorCal Regionals.
With the bulk of the team's field players set to return, MC should have a nice base to build upon going into next season.
"I definitely missed the game and missed being out there every day," Pedretti said. "Nate did a great job with the team this year, and it was really neat to see the way we would do things differently.
"We have a lot of guys coming back that saw a lot of playing time this year and we're pretty excited about the recruiting class we have coming in.
"The one thing I really learned on this time away is that I don't really have a time frame on how long I'm going to keep going. I think for now it's just going to be a year-to-year thing, and I'm really excited to get back out there."
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.