The Northwest baseball team, the Mountain Vipers, became the 15-and-under 2011 Arizona State Babe Ruth champions, after taking first place in the state tournament last month.
The team, comprised mostly of Mountain View High School students, are in Fowler, Calif., this week to compete in the Pacific Southwest Regional Championships. If the Vipers win there, they then will travel to Jamestown, N.Y., to compete in the World Series, which takes place Aug. 20-27.
Head coach and former professional baseball pitcher Anthony Chavez has coached the club since it was established.
“These boys and this club have been together for the past three years,” Chavez said. “We have been playing tournaments and in the leagues in town and tournaments throughout Arizona. A lot of the tournaments that we did play in, we always came in second. This year, with their maturity and with their knowledge of the game and the way it is suppose to be played…we had some good results. We won our league and we won the state championship,” Chavez noted.
The team won the state title “the hard way,” as Chavez said. After losing the first game, the Vipers were placed in the loser’s bracket. The team then proceeded to win six games in a row.
The Vipers took first place by having a solid amount of good pitching, great defense and solid work when up to bat.
“At the plate, everything seemed to finally click. They started doing things necessary to push runs across the board, like drag bunting, hitting behind the runners, executing the bunts, two-out hits – all those things are factors in scoring runs,” Chavez said.
Chavez said his pitchers – Jared Cochran, Austin Cooper and Miko Simental – really helped the team through their games. He said Colton Wheeler did a great job of coming in at the back end of the games to close things out.
“Eric Poole was probably the defensive player of the tournament. He made some outstanding plays at shortstop,” the coach noted.
Chavez said Dylan Henschell’s hitting was on spot as well during the tournament.
The Mountain Vipers were formed about three years ago when the Tucson Baseball Academy closed down. Many of the players’ parents wanted to hold the group together. They formed the team and invited Chavez to coach for the players. Chavez’s assistant coaches are Mark Henschell and Jeff Wheeler.
The other team members are Taylor Balsino, Chase Bishop, Morgan Flores, Jared Guizzetti, Brandon Hyatt, Eric Mercer and Diego Moreno.