When Logan Hold and Ben Fitzhugh were freshmen, it was hard to imagine Shadow Ridge’s baseball program ever making much of an impact.
The Mustangs hadn’t made the playoffs since the school opened in 2003, and had gone 9-20 the previous season.
And while Shadow Ridge missed the postseason that season, the Mustangs finally made the playoffs in 2011 and 2012. Now Hold and Fitzhugh are part of a senior class that is out to leave an even bigger mark on the program.
“We’ve been talking bout it since day one how much of a statement we’re going to make this year and how we think we can get to state and make a big statement across the valley who Shadow Ridge really is,” said Fitzhugh, the Mustangs’ cleanup hitter.
Shadow Ridge enters the Sunset Region tournament today as one of several teams with a legitimate shot at the title. And the Mustangs are in the midst of what is by far their best season, having gone 28-3.
“This program has taken a huge turn over the last three or for years to where I think we’re one of the better programs, top programs on this side of town,” Hold said. “And it’s going to be that way for the next couple years, as well.”
The first step for Shadow Ridge will come at home at 3:30 p.m. today against Bonanza (15-14). The double-elimination region tournament runs through Friday, with the winner earning a berth in next week’s state tournament.
“We have a chance to go far,” Hold said. “Me, personally, I really want to go to state. It’s nice being one of the best teams on this side of town, but I want to be the best team in Nevada.
“I think we have a real shot.”
While that would have seemed far-fetched in the past, Hold and company have proven to be a legitimate contender this season. And if the Mustangs are going to make a playoff run, Hold probably will play a big role.
He bats third for the Mustangs, but more importantly, is a legitimate ace pitcher. He threw a shutout with 15 strikeouts in the team’s last regular-season game to secure a 1-0 win over Palo Verde and the Northwest League’s top seed.
Hold is 9-0 with a 0.89 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 63 innings. Travis Caskie has been outstanding all season as the team’s No. 2 starter, posting a 6-0 record and 1.78 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.
But to get through the region tournament, the Mustangs will have to go deeper.
Hold doesn’t think that’s a problem.
“We should have enough pitching,” Hold said. “I think our biggest question is going to be our offense, if it’s going to come back around and be consistent.”
Shadow Ridge will need the offensive punch to get past the likes of Southwest champion Cimarron-Memorial (23-6), Northwest runner-up Arbor View (29-4) and Bishop Gorman (26-5-1), which won the last seven Class 4A state titles.
“It’s going to be a bunch of dogfights,” Hold said.
“I want a state title to go out and leave a legacy on this school that no one else has really done before. I’m very excited for the playoffs and to see how far we go.”