|Kyle Lobaugh. The senior catcher recorded his first home run of the season against Northland Prep. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Taylor Hicks slides into third base as coach Will Davis motions he is safe. VVN/Travis Guy|
According to head coach Will Davis, the Cowboys baseball team had all of the physical tools to compete with the top teams in Division-III, but they needed to put it together with the mental side of the game to be a complete team.
Through the season, Camp Verde has shown flashes of being a complete team, but faltered late and lost leads, and games, because of it. That was not the case when the Cowboys squared off against Northland Prep Academy, ending the game in five innings.
"Keeping the intensity all the way through practice helps us keep the intensity all the way through games," said senior catcher Kyle Lobaugh. "If you set cruise control in practice and go through the motions, that's what you do half way through the game, even if you're up, you set cruise control. We've been keeping the intensity up in practice and having a better attitude in practice and it's reflecting on the field and in games."
Camp Verde jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and the Spartans, despite being ranked in the top-10 of Division-IIII, were held scoreless for the second time this season.
Kyle got things started for Camp Verde by recording his first home run of the year during his first at-bat of the game. Kyle also drove in senior Taylor Hicks, who was walked before the catcher was up to bat.
"It feels pretty good, I just can't let it get to my head," Kyle said. "I wasn't working for it at all. I was just happy to get the RBI and I didn't know it was out."
While some of the Cowboys were not as fortunate when they were up to bat, four batters, including Kyle, had a batting average of .500 or above. Senior Heath Carroll went 2-for-3, notching two doubles. Fellow senior Jesse Fullbright also recorded two doubles in four at bats.
"Jesse Fullbirght threw a great game," Davis said. "He looked like the kid from last year that was a dominant pitcher with a sub-2 ERA, finally. He was in the zone all day, finally, finally coming around."
As well as being one of the leaders on offense, Jesse led the defense on the pitchers mound. Jesse pitched a two-hitter shutout against Northland Prep, facing 18 Spartans. Fullbright threw 58 pitches, striking out three batters, and walking one.
"It was the mentality going into the game," Jesse said. "Coach was talking about me throwing a lot of strikes and just pounding that into my head, so that's what I was thinking about, trying to get that first pitch strike and close out the game and it worked."
This was a needed win for Camp Verde, despite facing a school from a lower division. The Cowboys were on a two-game skid with losses to Williams, 8-7, and Prescott, 15-5, but returned to the win column and are hoping to build momentum.
"It was important because we need to win out, pretty much, to make a run at the playoff and it was a big confidence boost for the team," Kyle said. "It let us know how we could actually play."
The baseball team's remaining games mirrors the softball team's schedule with the exception of a game against Mingus that was rescheduled for April 13, due to field conditions after the rain. Three of the remaining games are against teams ranked higher than Camp Verde (Mingus, Prescott and Payson) and according to Davis, at least one is a must win if the Cowboys are to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"It really is [starting to "click"]. We've got four more games we should win, and we've got to find a win against Mingus, Payson or Prescott and we can, we can," Davis said. "We're losing players like flies, we're down to 10 now, so that's killing us. We've just got to keep battling and take it one game at a time and hope it turns out alright."