West Valley Preps
Millennium baseball is already making itself at home in the 5A conference.
The Tigers started their first season after the move down from 6A with a 5-1 record. A scheduled March 12 game against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep was rained out.
Girls volleyball, boys basketball, girls soccer and girls basketball all reached 5A the state championship game and baseball squad wants to continue the debut trend.
“We want to play in the last game of the year. As cliche as it is, you only get so many power point games. We’re never going to overlook somebody. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that we want to play in the last game of the year,” Millennium coach Jerod Burleson said.
The second-year head coach saw this group of kids improve at the end of last year. The program bottomed out at 10-17 in 2016.
Millennium baseball finished 18-11 in 2017 and 19-11 in 2018, winning the 6A Southwest Region both years. However, in 2018 the Tigers also won a play-in game to reach the 6A playoffs.
With only two seniors in the regular lineup, a young team soaked in the experience.
“Last year we were junior heavy. Our seniors performed last year but there were only a couple of them,” Burleson said. “As we made our late section run into the (6A) playoffs we got to see these guys mature. It gave us a good feeling going into this year.”
An ace is among that Class of 2019 group. David Enriquez already has two complete-game shutouts this year.
Enriquez rolled up 22 strikeouts in the process of blanking Gilbert Higley and Sunrise Mountain. After that second shutout March 7, the four-year varsity player said this group is reaching its peak.
“I think it’s the best team we’ve played on,” Enriquez said. “I feel like we’re going to go deep in the playoffs this year. We’re going to be a good contender in 5A.”
It was not an automatic feature of dropping a conference. Centennial gave Millennium a rude awakening with a 4-3 win in Goodyear Feb. 26.
In the next five wins only Gilbert Williams Field scored more than two runs against the Tigers, who beat the Black Hawks 7-4 in Gilbert.
“We lost the first game this season and our heads were down. But we got up and told ourselves, we’re going to play a lot of games and battle it out,” Enriquez said.
The season is young and a pair of region battles with 2018 5A runner up Buckeye Verrado. But Burleson said the win at perennial contender Sunrise Mountain is a good early season milestone.
“So far, this is it. This one ranks up at the top for me,” Burleson said.