FARMINGTON >> The Kirtland Central baseball program has a new man leading the team.
The Broncos have named Ron Axworthy as their head coach ahead of the 2014 baseball season.
"I think we'll be able to compete, and we're very excited about what he brings to the team," KCHS athletic director Kevin Graham said.
Axworthy, who was born and raised in Anaheim, Calif., has 18 years of high school baseball coaching experience in Washington and California, most recently at Mead High School in Spokane, Wash.
"I'm coming in with a blank slate and an open mind," he said. "I want to make the program something this community can be proud of."
The Broncos have struggled in recent seasons, finishing last year at 7-14 under former coach James Belveal.
KCHS has just a 2-20 record in the District 1-4A play the last three seasons against its local rivals.
"I know Farmington and PV are the big boys in town, and it will take us some time to get there," Axworthy said.
Axworthy, who said he has only been in Kirtland for a week and half, stumbled upon the baseball opening while looking for a job in special education after completing his master's degree at Grand Canyon University.
"It was just by chance. I saw they had an opening for a teaching position, and when I went to the district website, I saw they were hiring for a baseball coach as well," said Axworthy, who will be a special education teacher at Kirtland Central. "I knew there was something good here. My wife will still be in Washington for another year, but she encouraged me to take the job."
Axworthy said building up youth baseball will be something at the forefront of his program.
"I start with the younger kids and getting the community involved and excited," he said. "I want to start running baseball clinics and get everyone to buy into what we're doing. We're going to build from the ground up."
The new coach has also been impressed with the turnout for the upcoming KCHS baseball season.
"I've been pleasantly surprised. We've had about 23 come out, and that's without the ones still playing basketball and wrestling," he said.
Axworthy described himself a "fundamentals fanatic" and is prepared to have the Broncos playing solid baseball this year.
"I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to play the game," he said. "We won't beat ourselves. We'll compete, be aggressive and make the other teams beat us."Joshua Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.