CROSSROADS — It’s amazing what a little senior leadership can do.
Led by a trio of veterans, Crossroads’ baseball team is enjoying a breakout season. After a pair of losing seasons, which didn’t produce a playoff appearance, the Roadrunners have raced out to 7-1 record.
Co-Head Coach Matt Amido gives much of the credit for the impressive start to his seniors, adding that their leadership has been crucial in the development of a team that is comprised of a number of underclassman. Due to a lack of participation, the school decided to combine both the varsity and junior varsity squads this season.
“[The seniors] are the kind of guys who get to practice early,” Amido said. “They are keeping everybody accountable.”
Senior second baseman Jason Snyder said that he and fellow seniors Jaysen Chariamonte and Caleb Hodge like to play the roles of good cop, bad cop to get across to the younger players.
“Our main leader is Caleb Hodge, he plays the bad cop,” Snyder said. “He yells at everybody. Jaysen and I are like the good cops.
“It is kind of the best of both worlds.”
Snyder, who is also the team’s closer, said the strategy appears to be working, yet gives most of the credit for the strong start to the squad’s younger players.
“We have a lot of young talent this year,” he said. “That, combined with senior leadership, has given us a really good chemistry.
“We work hard and win.”
Part of that hard work has come in the pitching department. Former JV Head Coach Pat Armstrong has joined Amido as co-head coach this season and apparently the duo have discovered a winning rapport. Armstrong has spent countless hours with the pitching staff, honing their skills and sharpening their resolve.
“We talk every night,” Amido said of his co-coach. “We go over everything.
“We’re on the same page.”
Reluctant to take credit for the turnaround, Amido said that the early success this season is the product of a coaching staff dedicated to the finer points and a team replete with players who are not only quality athletes but are astute students of the game.
“The players are starting to buy into our philosophy,” Amido said. “They are not just getting up there and seeing how far they can hit the ball. They are buying into moving guys over.
“We’re pretty good with that and I think it will continue.”
Amido’s approach to the game is a simple one. He believes that small ball is the key for a team that is light on power hitters. Even if the roster was stacked with sluggers, Amido said that games are rarely won with the long ball and that manufacturing runs can perennially be counted upon to put teams in positions to win.
“We take other teams apart,” Hodge said. “We bunt, we steal, we force the other team into uncomfortable positions. We don’t go for the long ball. We do have guys who could do that, but we don’t base our offense around that.”
He said that both head coaches have been preaching that approach from the beginning and that the players see that it works and are happy to stick to the program.
“Why try something different when what you are doing is working?” Hodge said.
Next up for the Roadrunners, who have been on spring break this past week, is the Santa Ynez Tournament. The three-game tourney begins April 6.
Amido feels that the road trip up north may be the team’s acid test. He expects the competition to be fierce and the margin for error razor thin.
“I think we have a long way to go,” Amido said, “but we’re heading in the right direction.”