At a team-building camp in Middleburg over spring break, Centreville senior right-hander Carson Bach was trying to help some teammates scale a 13-foot wall. “Grab my arm!” he encouraged, extending a helpful right limb in the players’ direction.
Centreville Coach Scott Findley, who wanted the Wildcats to negotiate the obstacle course without any help from him, quickly intervened. He had visions of elbow damage and ripped shoulder cartilage racing through his mind.
Bach and Co. made it through the exercise, and have since scaled the Virginia AAA Concorde District standings. The Wildcats topped Westfield, 9-2, at home Friday on senior night to earn a 10th consecutive victory, at least a share of the regular season district title and an automatic berth into the Northern Region tournament.
Centreville also has its sights set on winning a district championship for the first time since the school opened in 1989.
“Ever since that moment [at team-building camp], we’ve all relied on each other to do anything,” Bach said. “It’s been awesome. We’ve been winning ever since then. We don’t let any stuff on the field affect our friendship. At the end of the day, whether we’re having a bad day or not, we still love each other. That’s just awesome to have that on a team.”
“It was really cool [at the camp] because some guys that were harder for me to get across to really stepped up and it was really neat to see,” Findley said. “When they had to get all 24 guys and three managers over a 13-foot wall with no help. . . . ”
It was the team helping Bach last night, spotting him seven runs in the first inning and two more in the second. He allowed one hit in six innings, striking out nine, walking six, throwing two wild pitches and balking home a Westfield (9-9, 4-4) run.
The Wildcats (14-2, 8-0) are a loose bunch, dancing in the dugout and taking sort of a backyard approach under first-year coach Findley, who had been the Centreville junior varsity coach.
Sometimes as many as 16 players a night get at least one at-bat or time in the field. They resign themselves to making the occasional mistake, which eases the pressure. They favor T-ball games over live batting practice. And when a recent game got rained out, they went en masse to see the Jackie Robinson movie “42.”
“Every day we have fun,” Findley said. “Keep it loose.”
“We just get out and play the game that we love,” said senior center fielder C.J. Evans, who had two hits and drove in three runs. “Every day in practice we just go out and have a good time and we take that into the game.
“Winning 10 in a row is huge, but like Findley always says, ‘I’ve never won a district championship in April.’ Now we’re in May.”