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Scorpions gain experience in summer competition

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JULIAN GARCIA of Desert Edge swings at a pitch against Buena in the first round of the Division II state tournament April 26 at Desert Edge. Garcia will be an important returning player for the Scorpions, who competed in summer competition for the first time in five years. View photo by Ray Thomas
JULIAN GARCIA of Desert Edge swings at a pitch against Buena in the first round of the Division II state tournament April 26 at Desert Edge. Garcia will be an important returning player for the Scorpions, who competed in summer competition for the first time in five years. View photo by Ray Thomas

15-game schedule helps young crop of players

Desert Edge baseball coach Sean McCorry doesn’t usually have his team compete during the summer. This year was an exception.

For the first time since McCorry took over the program in 2013, the Scorpions played a summer slate of games.

We decided to do it this year because we have a lot of younger guys that needed a place to play,” McCorry said. “Most of these kids go off and play travel ball, I usually let them do that. We had a group of freshmen and some seniors that needed a place, so we created a 15-game schedule. It was good for the guys.”

The Scorpions competed against schools such as Buckeye, Estrella Foothills, Glendale Deer Valley, Anthem Boulder Creek and Phoenix Washington. Most of the games were at Desert Edge.

They did alright,” McCorry said of his players. “The coaching staff said it was good to see some of the younger pitchers pitch a few more innings past what we did in the season. They got some growth. Defensively, we’ve got to get better. We didn’t really have a lot of guys on that team that were infielders, so they struggled defensively on the infield.”

Three of the team’s strongest returners from last year were not present for the summer because of other commitments. E.J. Varela, who was a pitcher, played football during the summer, while catcher Willie Loera and shortstop Julian Garcia played for Gauchos Baseball Academy. Garcia is the son of Marcos Garcia, the former head coach at Agua Fria.

He’s a good player,” McCorry said of Julian. “He’s super strong, great young man, and he’s pretty talented. We’ll see how he develops at the plate this year, but as far as running the bases, defensively, he’s solid. He’ll be fun to watch.”

The Scorpions lost eight seniors from last year’s team that went 15-10 and 7-3 in the Desert West Region. That mark was good enough to tie it with Verrado for the region championship, but the Vipers got the nod over Desert Edge because of a better 5A conference record.

They got the first round bye because they have the better overall record, but when you’re talking our region, we were both 7-3, and we split with them,” McCorry said. “That was awesome for our guys, because I think they played above and beyond their ability level, and it was nice to see because they played as a unit and as a team. We’re going to have to do that again this year to have a shot.”

With only a handful of seniors returning, McCorry realizes his team will be very young next year, he said. Because of that, the summer games were a great tool for the Scorpions to learn.

It was good for them to face some decent teams, like Boulder Creek — they’re loaded, have a lot of good, strong arms,” McCorry said. “I think it was good for them to see where they’re at. It showed them what they need to work on, like, OK, if I really want to play varsity baseball, I’m going to have to do these things.”

Youth movement

Five freshmen were on the varsity roster last season, and one of them, Matt Kamins, started in the Scorpions’ playoff game.

Eric Sims also saw some playing time as a freshman, collecting seven hits in 18 at bats (a .389 average).

Those players could see a jump in playing time this season, along with several incoming freshmen. McCorry ran a camp on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from the end of May through June, and had a significant amount of people turn out, at least at the start.

We had 40 total, but by the end of the summer, you’re down to about 15; they show up strong, and then they just disappear,” McCorry said. “Most of the guys that were incoming guys, they showed up every time, which was great to see. The returners, they come and go. That’s why I don’t do a whole lot in the summer, because guys go places.”

McCorry also doesn’t like to do too much in the summer because he doesn’t want the pitchers to wear down, he said.

It’s taxing on arms,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any problem with playing past your season and into the summer, but at some point, you’ve got to shut it down, and kids aren’t shutting it down.”

McCorry won’t be doing a lot of practicing in the fall because of that. He said a couple of days per week he’d like to get the pitching machine out to have his athletes hit, and he wants to see them fielding in live situations. After that, he’ll run a camp.

We overseed in October,” McCorry said. “Once [the field] is ready, we’ll run a three- or four-day mini camp. The kids on campus who are interested can come sign up, and it’s a way to get a little bit of money back into our program. After that, I’ll start working with pitchers and catchers.”

McCorry said he likes to build his pitchers up slowly, similar to how the professional teams do so in spring training. He’ll do that through December and January, with the next baseball season beginning in February 2018.

Desert Edge will look to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, after earning a berth for the first time in McCorry’s five-year tenure last season.

It took five years to change that culture, and we finally made the playoffs,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll make the playoffs this year, but I tell my guys, you just have to trust the process, and when it’s all said and done, we’ll see where we’re at. If we make it, great, if we don’t, it doesn’t mark who you are as a man.”

 

Casey Pritchard can be reached at caseypritchard@westvalleyview.com
or on Twitter @CaseyonSports.

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