There is no divination class at Tri-Cities Prep High school, but Jacob Amato’s prediction for this year’s baseball team has come true, nonetheless.
The Jaguars had just blown a 4-0 lead against Friday Harbor and suffered a 6-4 loss in the opening round of state last spring when Amato had a few words for his teammates.
“The guys all had tears in their eyes, then Jacob said, ‘We will go undefeated next season,’ ” TCP coach Jason Jarrett said. “And here we are, 22-0. It’s all about the hard work. With hard work, success will come.”
The Jaguars will open the first round of the 2B state tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday against Pe Ell/Willapa Valley (11-12) at Davis High School in Yakima.
“For the most part, we try to get as much information as we can on these guys,” Jarrett said. “Every team we play is the best game in the state, you never know what will happened any day. You still have to pitch, you still have to hit. They made the state playoffs last year (the Titans finished second), but lost a lot of their guys.”
And a perfect record doesn’t curry any favors in the postseason.
“When you go undefeated, everyone has it out for you,” Jarrett said. “We have done a lot of work on keeping everyone on the same page. A humble mindset. Even if they have a worse record, we can still be beat.”
TCP is led by senior first baseman/pitcher Carter Ritala, co-EWAC Player of the Year, and Trent Mercado, Jared Hartwig and Amato, who all were first-team EWAC selections.
“Carter has had an outstanding season,” Jarrett said. “He puts in a lot of time, he takes the game seriously and knows you have to do your homework. It has been impressive to see him grow.”
Jarrett, a 2000 graduate of Richland High School, has brought the program a long way since he took over seven years ago. His efforts this season earned him EWAC Coach of the Year honors.
“My first year, I think we won four games,” he said. “My third season we were in the final 16.”
This season marks the fourth time the Jaguars have been in the Round of 16 under Jarrett, but they still are looking for their first state win.
“We’ve had a good season,” Jarrett said. “We need to keep our guys focused and get our job done.”
Whether the season ends Saturday or next weekend, Jarrett’s wife Codi will be waiting with clippers in hand to trim his wayward red beard. An image of Jarrett and his beard found its way on the front of TCP T-shirts this spring.
“I told her I wasn’t shaving until the season was over,” he said, citing superstitions and the like.