The first thing that people notice as they enter the main doors of Mesquite High School is the large glass cases lining the walls. Trophies of polished wood, silver and gold are what covers the shelves. Each trophy not only represents a prestigious win but the individual story of a team and their efforts towards a common goal.
The most recent trophy to be added into the already crowded walls was the Mesquite varsity baseball team’s championship 4A trophy. The team spearheaded by coach Jeff Holland, had a record breaking 21-1 season. That would be Holland’s 25th year with the Mesquite baseball team.
However, the team did not start out as a championship team. COVID-19 lurked over everyone’s shoulders, threatening every game to be cut short. Practices were limited to only a few players on the field at a time. Along with the socially distanced practices the team had no time to build a bond. Leading to fiery emotions running between players.
“The team from last year is the definition of team chemistry. At the beginning I didn’t think at all that we would have the chance to get a title then once the season came along everything changed,” said senior center fielder Keeton “KB” Bell.
The main reason for such a switch was a severe change of mentality within the team. Holland described the new way of thinking as a playoff, blue collar mentality. Mentioning how the team never knew which game would be their last. In return the players clocked in and entered the field; planning to work hard and get the job done.
“It's not always the best team who’s going to win it, it is the team that works together, who goes out and has fun,” added Holland.
Last year Mesquite was seen as an underdog team. They were ranked low in every prediction bracket as they went up against higher ranked opponents. However, the wildcats entered the diamond with the hunger to prove people wrong.
Their hunger led them all the way to the 4A championship game, where they would face Salpointe Catholic.
When asked about his mentality going into the game Thomas Vogiatzis said “Just to keep playing our game and to play for each other and we can win it.
Vogiatzis also credited the team's energy in the dugout as a pillar of their success. The team went into the game with said energy and their newfound chemistry, that would then push them to a 2-1 win.
The start of the fall games will be the beginning of a new era as Holland goes into his 26 seasons with the Wildcats. This year's team will feature a strong group of returning players. Coming back with an almost all senior starting lineup and three new transfer students.
The mentality has carried over from last season leading to a strong will to succeed in the next.
“We have a big target on our back and we have the right to defend what’s ours until we lose it,” Bell said.