|Heath Carroll makes the out against Mingus Union. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Austin Stutzman. VVN/Travis Guy|
Since Camp Verde baseball moved to Division-III and began playing Mingus Union during the 2010 season, the Marauders have scored a win each game. That was not the case in their latest outing; the Cowboys upset the Marauders 11-8.
"It feels good, but we know inside that we have a good talented team, so we can beat anyone if we come with the right mind set," said Austin Stutzman. "It's really nothing new, but it was nice to win."
The Camp Verde baseball team knew what it had to do going into the game against Mingus Union, they had to win if they had any chance of making the state playoff.
"Oh man, [it's] great," said junior Taylor Hicks. "Just to know that we could have possibly saved our season by that. I mean, they were supposed to kill us. It was a great, great win."
Knowing that, the Cowboys were the first on the board and whenever the Marauders scored, Camp Verde scored, leading them to an 11-8 upset.
All season head coach Will Davis has been critical of his team, saying that the talent and physical tools were there, but the boys needed to work on their mental game to be successful. This game, while not perfect, was a step above most other games. The Cowboys were able to maintain their lead through the game and only committed two errors compared to the Marauders four.
"That was great, these are tough kids," Davis said. "When you have nine, 10, 11 [and] 12 players and not 20, they've got to be mentally tough and throw a lot of pitches. They have to fight through a lot of adversity and their doing that. They're doing the best they can."
The Marauders could not get their pitcher comfortable, allowing the Cowboys to force Mingus Union to change pitchers four times. Seniors Heath Carroll and Tyler Pennington led the offense for Camp Verde, going 3-for-2 at the plate. Tyler also drove hit a double, which resulted in an RBI. Catcher Kyle Lobaugh batted in two runners while having a .500 batting average. The Cowboys notched nine hits for the day, going 9-for-28 and recording a .321 team batting average.
"That definitely helped us [the pitching situation]," Davis said. "They've had three games this week and their big three pitchers were all done. This is our fourth game too, we had the same two guys that pitched yesterday, and they just battled through. Taylor and Jesse have both thrown close to 200 pitches this week and play all these games, we've got to give them a lot of credit for the toughness they've shown, they helped us get this win today."
Jesse Fullbright and Taylor threw for Camp Verde, with Jesse beginning the game and going for 3.2 innings, and Taylor pitching the rest of the way.
It was evident by the last innings both players pitched that the schedule was getting to them as the pitches were coming in slower and Mingus Union was connecting more, but the seniors persevered through it and relied on their teammates to help make plays.
"Its all mental," Taylor said. "My arm can be falling apart, but I know we have to win some games and we have some people out, so we have to be there as much as we can. Just have to be mentally ready and keep going."
Taylor ended the game with a 6.30 ERA, allowing four runs and four hits against 18 batters. Jesse only recorded one strike, but like Taylor, had four hits and four runs against 21 batters for a 3.82 ERA.
Heath played first base for the game, and with the assistance of fellow infielders Andrew Woodward, Ezra Church and Taylor, was able to stop many Marauders from even making it to first.
"Defensively, we're definitely there," Taylor said. "We had one inning where we let a few go, but we kept our heads in it and pulled through, great job all around."
The Cowboys need to use the momentum from this win going into their remaining five games. Currently, they are sitting at No. 31 in the Division-III rankings. Only the top-24 teams will make it to state, so winning out is almost a necessity for Camp Verde.
"We knew it was the first round of playoffs for us," Austin said. "We lose and we're pretty much done, we need to win out to make it."
Camp Verde will host Mayer High School in a double-header on April 19, the first game begins at 1 p.m.