For a trio of Dawson seniors, this has been a rewarding spring. A solid baseball season has taken them somewhere they haven’t been since they were freshmen: Three rounds deep in the playoffs.
So what do they remember about 2010?
“We were a pretty good JV team,” Louis Lachney said, drawing laughs from Mark Martinez and Jake Strother.
The seniors did not play much as freshmen. That team was fairly stacked, Lachney said.
The last two years, the Bulldogs (18-7) lost in the second round of the playoffs. Last year, it came after a first-round bye. Getting to the third round means something.
“I don’t think a lot of people thought we’d be here,” Lachney said. “We thought we would. We’ve worked hard this year.”
It’s not that Dawson doesn’t have a playoff pedigree. Assistant coach Gary Kay said this is 10 years in a row for the Bulldogs to play in the postseason. Twice in the past, the school has been represented in the regional finals.
But there is a slightly different feel under first-year coach Bo Moore.
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” Strother said.
Until they actually came for the first day of practice in February, Moore had no idea what he had. The Bulldogs boys basketball season ended on a Friday. Baseball practice followed on Monday. The Bulldogs scrimmaged on Tuesday.
But it took a preseason tournament for Moore to get a glimpse of what was to come.
“When we went to the Crowley tournament, beat a 4A team, and competed with 5A teams,” Moore said.
The season has been as much about effort as it has talent. The team has continued a practice started last year, getting to school to lift weights and run at 6:30 a.m., so they can be on the baseball field by 2:45 each afternoon.
Moore looked at stats from a year ago, but didn’t take too much from them. “We play a different style of baseball,” he said.
They work on the finer things of the game. No ground balls through the infield without diving, making it hard on the other team, not striking out, bunting, stealing bases, etc., Moore said. And they do it diligently. They have also run. A lot.
“No days off,” Martinez said.
In the home side dugout at Dawson’s field, right above the large, marker-made “6” representing the number of wins still needed to get to state, are pictures of Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a gritty, leave-it-all-on-the-field player. Martinez said the photos were up from Day 1, placed there by Moore.
There is also a sentence written on the dry erase board: “Dustin Pedroia Mentality.”
“All the little stuff it takes to win,” Moore said. “We’re not going to get a guy on first and hope we knock him in.”
It all came to pass last weekend, when the Bulldogs found themselves in a 1-0 hole to Dodd City, needing two wins on Saturday to advance after an 8-1 loss in Game 1 on Friday.
The Bulldogs were confident, Moore said.
“They were out of pitching, and we knew we had a lot left,” he said. “Of course I didn’t want to lose 8-1, but ...”
Dawson came out and held on in Game 2, 5-4. They took a 6-0 lead in Game 3 quickly, and ended up winning, 10-2, to advance to face Muenster in the Region II-1A quarterfinals this weekend.
“They understand now,” Moore said of the grueling workouts and mental sharpening. “Saturday, when (Dodd City) was tired, we were not.”
“It’s that Dustin Pedroia mentality,” Strother said.
“All out, every day,” Martinez said.