April 14, 2011 - 5:22 pm
Andre Prosise has been waiting for a season like this his entire baseball career at Laughlin High School.
The Cougars are finally eligible for the playoffs again, and the senior pitcher and infielder is determined to make some lasting memories.
“It’s been a really, really, really fun year,” Prosise said. “We’re such a young team, we have a young lineup, but we’re here to take care of business.”
Laughlin (14-1-1, 8-0 Class 2A Southern League) is in first place heading down the stretch, and the Cougars have every reason to think they can be in the hunt for a state tournament bid.
It wasn’t long ago that Laughlin couldn’t entertain thoughts of any postseason.
The school was classified in 2A based on enrollment two years ago, but school officials opted to have every program but wrestling and cross country compete as a 1A independent.
That ended this year. The Cougars struggled in football but were the first team out of the 2A playoffs in boys basketball.
Many of the same players on those teams are on the baseball roster, and the chance to finally compete for a state title is special.
“Just having the opportunity to play for something again is so exciting,” Laughlin coach Tony Petrik said. “The last three years we’ve had some pretty good kids come through our program, and for them to not have a chance to go to the postseason, we felt bad for those kids.
“But they played, kept things going for us, and now these kids have the opportunity to play for something again.”
The Cougars began building the foundation for a contender in 2009, when they went 23-5 against an independent schedule. They continued to impress in 2010, posting a 21-8 record.
By the time 2011 rolled around, the Cougars were more than ready.
“Our first goal was to make the playoffs, and here we are clinching a playoff spot, so it feels great,” Prosise said. “Even though we’re young, we’ve got a shot.”
Prosise, a right-hander, is 4-1 with a 2.71 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. He’s also batting .400 with 10 RBIs.
Prosise is among the more accomplished athletes in Laughlin history. As a senior, he was a standout quarterback and safety in football, a shooting guard who led the basketball team in scoring and now is the unquestioned leader of the baseball program.
“We (coaches) talked about that topic on the bus ride home a couple weeks ago,” Petrik said. “Andre sets an example for everybody in the three sports he plays. He says, ‘This is where I’m going to play, and you guys come up to my level.’
“With the youth that we have, we needed a kid like that to show the younger ones how it’s supposed to be done. He’s been an amazing leader for us.”
Laughlin has as many as six freshmen or sophomores in its lineup, but Petrik said the Cougars are quick learners.
One such player is sophomore right-hander Corey Beggs, who is 6-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 27 innings. He’s also batting .324 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.
Beggs said the younger players are determined to make a playoff run for their seniors, a group that includes pitcher/infielder Cameron Kruse and outfielders Tyler Morrison, Eli Jobe and Scott McDonald.
“It’s their last year here, and we want to make it special for them,” Beggs said. “We all want some good memories.”
Petrik said not only his players, but parents and those around the program are excited to be back in a league partly because old rivalries are renewed.
When the Cougars host Needles (11-7, 7-1) for a doubleheader Friday, it will rekindle a long-standing rivalry between the geographic neighbors.
“If nothing else comes out of this year, the fact we’re back in a league competing with people and Friday games mean something again is great,” Petrik said. “Our kids are understanding the importance of Friday games, rivalries and everything else.”