Players and coaches at Bonanza High aren’t entirely sure of the reason, but there’s no denying the team plays better in the summer than in the spring.
After struggling through a 9-20 season in the spring, the Southern Nevada Bengals, as they are known during the summer, rolled through the Connie Mack American league with a 12-4 record this summer, and are looking for their second straight state title when the tournament begins Friday.
“I told everybody at the beginning that we’re going to work this as a team,” coach Sean DeSoto said. “The guys in the dugout are hungry to play. I’m going to give you two shots, if I don’t I have to make a move to the bench. That’s how it was all summer.”
DeSoto is not Bonanza’s head coach in the regular season, but heads up the Bengals’ Connie Mack squad. He credits a more laid-back attitude and ensuring everyone gets playing time for the Bengals’ summer prowess.
The players seem to agree.
“Sean makes it easy on us,” infielder Robert Shook said. “We come out in summer ball and do great.”
Shook was on the team that won last year’s state title, and after graduating in the spring, knows this is his last to chance to play with this team.
Makai DeSoto on the other hand, is just getting started. Makai is Sean’s nephew, and did not play on last year’s summer team. But after seeing its success, wanted to be a part. He just finished his sophomore year, and likes seeing a team at the top of the regular standings winning league titles in June and July, particularly how other teams treat them.
“In season they’ll be throwing their worst pitcher and they’ll have their starters sitting,” Makai said. “In summer you see they have their best pitcher on the mound, their best shortstop, everyone. They’re trying to beat us.”
The Bengals begin their quest for a repeat Friday at 1 p.m. against the Nevada A’s (Arbor View). And in the mind of the Bengals, their goal can be summed up in one Drake quote they sang during practice this week.
“Hopefully we’ll go back to back,” Shook said.