Tommy Krier surprised his peers when he applied to become Western's baseball coach going into the 2010 season.
As an assistant at Cimarron-Memorial, Krier helped the Spartans win the 2009 Sunset Region title and reach the Class 4A state finals. He was headed to a Warriors program that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2003 and has spent the past few years as a Southwest League doormat.
"We lost to Gorman at state, and then I took over Western. Everyone thought I was nuts," Krier said. "I just wanted to get a head start on head coaching, so I thought it was an opportunity. And I tell these kids the same thing -- this is a great opportunity here at Western."
The Warriors have been listening to their third-year coach.
Western was eliminated from the Blazer Spring Bash tournament Wednesday with an 11-1 loss to San Fernando (Calif.) in the semifinals of the Las Vegas High Championship Bracket.
Western wanted more than a 2-2 record and a semifinal exit from the tournament, but it wasn't long ago that the Warriors reaching the semifinals of any tournament seemed almost absurd.
Western (5-13) has already equaled its win total from last year. The Warriors, who were a combined 12-80 from 2008 to 2011, also stunned then-No. 2 Sierra Vista 3-2 on March 26.
It was fitting that Josh Yocum, who Krier called the "heart and soul" of his program, was at the center of that win. The junior left-hander pitched a five-hitter and hit an RBI double to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning for the Warriors' biggest victory in years.
"This is the best team that we've had," said Yocum, who was 1-for-3 against San Fernando. "All these kids have a lot of heart. We just need to work."
Contact reporter Tristan Aird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @tristanaird.