Strike Zone hungry for return to glory

Karl Schneider
Bryce Washburn of Strike Zone throws to first base during a game on Wednesday at Ricketts Park.

FARMINGTON — After missing out on hosting the 2015 Connie Mack World Series, Strike Zone has one goal in mind for this year’s City League: win the City Championship and host the CMWS.

“We’re hungrier than ever. That’s the whole goal and only goal in mind, to take City,” said infielder Bryce Washburn, who played with the team last year.

Washburn’s thoughts were echoed by Lawrence Mayberry, who also played with Strike Zone last year, and said this group has more attitude coming into the summer.

Strike Zone has been one of the premier teams in the City League for the past several years, and head coach Adam Morrissey said this year’s squad doesn’t differ that much from previous years.

“We have a good group of kids, and after the first week, we have a bunch of different scenarios we’re going to try over the next eight weeks," Morrissey said. "I’m happy with the group we have this year. They’re a really good bunch of kids and hard workers, and I’m excited for this year.”

As a select team, Strike Zone’s roster is made up of some of the best players in the Four Corners. Morrissey said the lineup and pitching staff are both strong this year, and he expects the team to be well balanced both offensively and defensively.

There is no doubt that Strike Zone’s roster is filled with talent, but after most of the players played for different teams during the school season, a key focus for the group is building its chemistry. Morrissey has no doubts that the group will jell quickly.

“They play on different high school teams, but all these kids have played with each other in one way or another since they were 6 years old. Even though they all went to different high schools, they’ve all played together, and now it’s just about getting that team camaraderie,” Morrissey said. “It’s not like I’m getting 15 guys who don’t know each other. They’ve known each other their whole lives, and it’s an easy transition for us.”

Washburn and Mayberry will be looked to as leaders on the team. Morrissey said he expects their experience — as well as the other returning players’ experience — to have an impact on the new members of the roster.

Strike Zone's Lawrence Mayberry pitches on Wednesday at Ricketts Park.

“Being in those situations for the last two years, it’s going to rub off on the younger guys, and that’s why we have them around,” Morrissey said. “I think we filled in enough younger guys and older guys, and I think it’s a good mix. I like the combination of players we have.”

With the first week of the season in the books, Strike Zone has seven weeks left to put all the pieces together and start playing its best baseball for the start of the City Tournament.

“Right now, we’re starting to see what everyone’s about. We’re going to enjoy this time and get in as many games as we can,” Mayberry said. “We’ll grow together during the season and get some (wins), and the losses will teach us. I think we’re already that tight of a team where we’re going to make a run.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.