WILLCOX — A tradition of going to the postseason — nine of past 10 years — is facing a hiccup unless the 2020 Willcox baseball varsity picks up the pace on their rebuild.
The Cowboys barely made post-season last year with a play-in game loss and lost five starters from that squad.
“We’re rebuilding and I’m looking at some good things in the years to come with our younger class,” said third-year head coach Adrian Fuentes.
He’ll get help from freshmen like Seth Verdugo and Christian Pando, and his son, Aiden.
They’ll help make up for the loss of pitchers Eli Madrid and Christian Brown, outfielders Tanner Debaun and Brady Welch, and his other son, AJ Fuentes, all of whom graduated.
Three seniors return as starters, with David Peterson and Derek Terry playing at both pitcher and infield, while Caiden Hall returns in the outfield and junior Ote Allsup returns at catcher.
“We’re still going to be tough in our region because some opponents lost a lot as Thatcher lost nine starters and Bisbee lost about nine, too,” Fuentes said.
But Benson and Tombstone both finished ahead of Willcox last year as well and lose fewer starters, so Fuentes considers them the powerhouses to beat.
Juniors Brady Thompson and San Simon transfer Karsten Jones figure to contribute to the Cowboy line-up as well, but the young inexperienced squad will take some “coaching up” to better last year’s mediocre 6-9 record.
Varsity assistants Jacob Nolan and Jesus Pando will be joined by newcomer Tanner Hogue to try and right the ship and start the Cowboys back toward the former glory that saw the program go to the title game in 2017.
“We all lost a bunch and that may equalize the race,” Fuentes said.