On a gloomy afternoon in May, the Crenshaw Cougars baseball team (6-9 overall, 5-7 league) dominated over the Manual Arts Toilers (0-13 overall, 0-12 League). This was more than a victory, but a sign of progress for the Cougars.
After an undefeated 2014-2015 season, anything less than their previous achievements can look like a disappointment.
“Last year was one of our best teams,” said assistant coach Andre Green. “We went undefeated, we should have went farther, but the kid’s mind wasn’t on baseball.”
However, helping teach new players the fundamentals of baseball was a key improvement this past season.
Like most baseball teams in the Coliseum League, Crenshaw plays at the division II level. The Cougars suffered from a five game losing streak after their season opening win against Los Angeles Romans (7-15 overall, 5-5 Exposition league).
The win took nine innings, seniors Myles Brown and Jaray Romero, Junior Dylan Arthur and sophomore Zion Elzie scored a run each, leading to a 4-3 victory, according to MaxPreps.
Head coach Art Burke acts as a father figure to the players, showing concern for their success both on and off field. Each day, Burke holds conversations with the team.
“The most important thing for me is to seeing these kids go on and graduate and going to a J.C. or university or maybe one of them might get a chance to play pro ball,” Burke said.
Senior shortstop Gilbert Williams helped guide the lesser experienced players. At times, he had to take a step back from making plays to build a connection with teammates.
“It was challenging,” Williams said about his leadership role. “You got to figure them out as a person before you can talk to them as a player.”
Williams scored a total of 14 runs and 18 RBI’s by the end of the season, according to Max Preps.
Hitting and fielding were areas that Brown improved on; he will be attending the University of Oregon in the fall. Arthur introduced him to playing baseball; Brown joined the team in his sophomore year. During games, Brown searches for subtle actions of his opponents.
“I like to find out signs,” he said. “When I know the coach is giving that sign, I’m able to get there. If it’s stealing or any situation is happening, I could be able to alert the team.”
During the season, Brown earned 16 runs, scoring a season high of 3 runs during the cougars’ 12-8 win over the Hawkins Hawks (2-13 overall, 1-10 League).
The Locke Saints (16-7 overall, 11-1 League) and the Dorsey Dons (16-10 overall, 11-1 League) were difficult adversary, Arthur and Brown mentioned.
“Last year, we beat them pretty bad and they came back for revenge,” Arthur said about the two teams.
Arthur had 7 strikeouts and 5 runs this season, the game has taught him the importance of quick thinking.
Crenshaw did not reach the playoffs, however the athletic cougar squad acquired the fundamentals of baseball.
“The summer, when I got the kids together, that was a pivotal moment,” Burke said. “I had to work from summer all the way to now to try to get to where we got now.”