Longhorns rise in Sunset


Legacy's baseball team isn't thinking about history as the Sunset Region tournament starts today.

The Longhorns are focused on the present and near future.

Even though teams such as four-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman and 2005 state champ Sierra Vista loom, the Northwest League champion Longhorns are ready to take their place among the Sunset's top teams.

"They are good teams, but they're beatable," Legacy senior Adam Thompson said. "That's why they play the games. The past doesn't make a difference."

Legacy (21-8) hosts Spring Valley (15-9-1) in a first-round game today. In other first round matchups, Centennial (17-15) plays at Gorman (29-3), Bonanza (16-12) is at Arbor View (20-9) and Palo Verde (16-13) plays at Sierra Vista (25-6). All games are at 3:30 p.m.

One bit of history that does matter to the Longhorns is their experience playing together.

"We've all been playing together since just about Little League, since we were 11 or 12 years old," senior Zach Monticelli said. "We jell real well and play harder than any team out there."

Legacy coach Bill Dexheimer said the coaching staff has been able to mold the players since the program started.

"We opened Legacy four years ago, and a lot of these seniors were freshmen," Dexheimer said. "We had the opportunity as coaches to work with them from then until now. I think that's definitely helped us out a little bit, too."

And Dexheimer said the team's slow start this season might have actually helped. The Longhorns were 4-8 on March 25, but five of those losses came to Green Valley and Centennial in the first three days of the season. Dexheimer said it was good to face quality opponents right away.

"I think it helped us out a little bit," Dexheimer said. "They grew up real quick there. They understood that the game's got to be played a certain way. You've got to go hard, and we just got on a roll there, and we're playing pretty good baseball right now."

The Longhorns have won 14 straight games. Their last loss came on March 31 against Chatsworth (Calif.).

"When we hit conference play, we knew we had to turn it up because we have the toughest conference in the state," Monticelli said. "We dropped one early to Arbor View, and then never looked back after that."

Legacy also got a boost as ace Joey Lauria rounded into shape. Lauria, who has signed with UNLV, didn't pitch much early in the season as he nursed a sore shoulder.

"Halfway through our conference season, he started getting decent command of all his pitches and started to compete a little bit," Dexheimer said. "And that's when I think we turned the corner."

The double-elimination tournament continues through Saturday, with the championship game scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Centennial and a second game to follow if necessary.

The Sunrise Region tournament also begins today at host sites. Chaparral (14-12) plays at Green Valley (26-5), Silverado (20-9) plays at Las Vegas (22-8), Valley (14-13) plays at Foothill (23-5) and Coronado (15-7-2) plays at Rancho (26-3). All games are at 3:30.

The Sunrise tournament also continues through Saturday, with the championship game scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Green Valley.

The region champions advance to next week's Class 4A state tournament in Reno.

Contact reporter Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

 

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