SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Arizona desert is no match for the heat coming off Centaurus baseball in the early stages of the 2019 season.
After going 4-15 last year, the Warriors have already won five games in 2019, including a 7-6 come from behind win over Knappa (Ore.) on Tuesday in Surprise, Ariz.
"What we're trying to do is build team unity, team bonding and cohesiveness," coach Doug Kinney said. "We're learning to play together, to pick each other up and compete not only individually but as a unit."
What Kinney has seen from his team early is the lack of fear of playing from behind. On Tuesday, the Warriors (5-2 overall) trailed 4-1 in the third inning but battled back to tie the game.
They took a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning before Knapp plated a run in the seventh to pull even. The heroics at the end of the day belonged to senior Kaden Shepherd who ripped a base hit in the bottom of the seventh that scored the game-winning run.
That kind of rally has been the theme for Centaurus since the start of the season.
"That's something that we've been working on for a time," Kinney said. "Teaching them how to overcome adversity. We started with Mountain View. We overcame and won that game on Saturday then came down here. We came from behind yesterday (in a 9-5 loss) we just didn't have quite enough to finish. We came from behind today and persevered through and worked together and had quality at-bats and timely hits."
The win against Mountain View was powered by a two-run home run from Brayden Rizzi and a standout pitching performance from sophomore David Jachimiak.
Jachimiak threw against Knapp on Tuesday but was taken out in the fourth inning. Carson Renjillian and Rizzi came on in relief and it was Rizzi who came away with the win. He threw one inning, allowing no runs and no hits.
Kinney believes his team is capable of succeeding this year and sees this Arizona trip as a chance to bolster play on the field and tighten the camaraderie of the players for the remainder of the year.
"The opportunity for them to take this trip and to just be baseball players together without them being around everything else going on in their world helps bring them together and rely on each other," Kinney said. "Coming down here, they truly embraced it and they know they have the opportunity to play against some great teams."
And with the way the team has played early in the year, the competition against the schools in Arizona will only help make the Warriors one of the best team rebound stories of 2019.