The left side of the Desert Vista infield just might hold the key to the Thunder’s season.
And Colby Woodmanse and Tyler Adams are playing like they are tired of sweating out the announcement of the postseason bracket.
Woodmanse, a junior, has become the leader of the infield after moving to his natural position at shortstop. He played second base last year as a sophomore as then-senior Casey Thomas was entrenched at short, but it is clear there hasn’t been a letdown with Woodmanse back where he belongs.
“I feel like I am at home now,” he said.
Adams, a senior third baseman in his third year of varsity action, is one of the leaders simply because he wears dirt every game one way or another.
“He is a little guy that comes to play every day,” Thunder coach Stan Luketich said. “He loves the game and plays like it.”
Desert Vista entered this week 6-9 and 3-2 in the power rankings. The postseason tournament is expanded to 24 teams this year after being a 16-team tournament for years.
For the last two seasons, Desert Vista went into the final game having to fight for a playoff spot. They finished as the 16th seed two years ago, but missed out last year when the Thunder finished 17th in the power rankings knowing that one pitch was the difference.
“It was tough and hopefully we learned form it,” Adams said. “We were a better team than we showed. Hopefully, we can take care of it this year.”
The tandem on the left side is doing a good job of making sure the Thunder gets that shot.
Woodmanse is playing a solid short and began the year as the offensive catalyst before hitting a bit of down cycle in recent games.
He said the exposure as a sophomore, despite playing out of position, allowed him to come into this season with a comfort level that helped him get off to the good start.
“I know it can be intimidating to be on the varsity (as a sophomore), but I was fine with it,” said Woodmanse, who hit .390 with nine doubles, five home runs and 20 RBI. “I was glad to get the shot and now I am just playing the game.”
Woodmanse is hitting .364 with eight runs scored, four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs.
“He’s a good athlete and has good hands,” said Luketich, who added that the infield turned 65 double plays off the bat in practice recently. “He is a relentless worker and he is intelligent so he can adjust when he has to in the game.”
Adams plays with a chip on his shoulder after being told at camps that he was nothing more than a utility player.
“You get tired of hearing it,” said Adams, who hit .307 with eight doubles and 18 RBIs last season in 29 games. “I’m 5-foot-8 and I think people underestimate me. I don’t let it get me down. I just keep working and playing the game the only way I know how.”
It helps when you are hitting everything in sight, too.
Through 14 games, Adams was hitting .477 with 11 runs, two doubles, a triple and six RBIs.
“The ball is like a beach ball,” he said after last week’s game against McClintock in which he came in for the save in a 10-7 win. “I know it isn’t going to last, but I’ll ride it as long as I can.”
The Thunder is hoping to have a similar run that will be contingent on how much they learned from their early season schedule.
“We’re all a work in progress and we are trying to get better each week,” Luketich said. “They work hard and they are a great group to be around.”
Woodmanse knows the disappointment of the last few years can be erased with a good showing this year.
“We want a state championship,” he said. “All teams do, but right now we are just trying to get better every day.”
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