After losing on the second day of the Connie Mack City Tournament, Strike Zone put on its rally cap and won four straight games in the double-elimination tourney to earn the hosting duties for this year's Connie Mack World Series.
Strike Zone rolled over the 4-Corners ClubSox 5-1 on July 16 to return to the world series, which the team previously hosted in 2014.
Coach Adam Morrissey said he gave his players two days to rest and soak in the victory, but it was back to work after that.
"We came right back the following Tuesday, getting prepared for (the West qualifier) on July 29," said Morrissey, who will make his sixth appearance as the head coach of a New Mexico host in the CMWS. "So yeah, we’re onto the next challenge."
Although the local host team has never won the series in its 52-year history, that hasn't swayed Morrissey’s confidence.
"With this team, it’s like we’re stepping up to every challenge thrown at us this summer," he said. "So even though we’re the host team, we’re not going to roll over. We’re coming to win, and we’re getting ready to do that."
Strike Zone has benefited from balance this summer. Recent Piedra Vista High School graduate Logan Klunder and Farmington High School graduate Bryce Washburn have been versatile and dependable hitters, while Sandia High School grad Drew Gillespie and Kirtland Central High School senior Zach Van Duran have done their jobs as front-of-the-rotation starting pitchers. In the championship clincher, Gillespie twirled a five-hit, complete-game victory.
Morrissey believes his team has adopted a back-against-the wall mentality after staving off elimination for most of the city tourney.
"They’ve come together well through adversity," Morrissey. "Most of these kids on my team, they were all playing together when they were 8 to 10 years old. They’ve come full circle to where they get to play in the world series together, which is pretty cool."
A Closer Look
Coach: Adam Morrissey
Roster (number, name, position)
1 David Saldivar, INF
2 Lawrence Mayberry, INF
4 Joe Standley, P
5 Kyle Duran, OF
6 Andrew Laymon, OF
7 Connor Mang, INF
8 Andrew Yazzie, INF
9 Gavin Martin, OF
10 Jake Taylor, INF
11 Zachary Van Duren, INF
13 Kelton McCoy, C
15 Logan Klunder, 1B
16 Mitchell Parker, P
17 Andrew Gillespie, P
19 Austin Ely, OF
20 William Farmer, 3B
24 Josh Matamoros, OF
34 Bryce Washburn, INF