This is certainly no April Fool’s joke.
Going into a scheduled game with Ponderosa on Thursday, Windsor was 8-1 with every bit the look and feel of a baseball contender — in the rugged Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference and perhaps at the state level.
The Wizards’ only loss came via a 6-5 nail-biter Wednesday against Pueblo East (3-2), in which a frantic rally fell just short after Windsor scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh.
The Wizards are dead set on taking that coveted next step into 4A’s elite class after going 13-10 last year and advancing to the eight-team state tournament in May.
“We’re just working as a team well,” Windsor junior Dustin Starck said last week, after the Wizards’ 9-5 win against Roosevelt. “We’re playing defense well, as a team. We’re scoring runners, as a team. We just have a solid team. We have a solid staff, pitching-wise, too.”
These aren’t the Wizards of yesteryear.
In 2012 — coach Brad Deal’s first year at the helm — Windsor had a season remarkably similar to last year, going 13-10 and qualifying for state.
Before that, being one of the final eight teams standing might have seemed like a pipe dream for the Wizards.
Windsor went 6-12 in 2011 and a combined 19-37 the previous three seasons with no winning campaigns.
This spring, the Wizards have had three wins in one-run games, and all eight of their wins have been decided by five or fewer runs.
“You know, what we’ve done, is we’ve had some close games and we’ve been able to win the close games, where the last couple years, we’ve found ways to lose those games,” Deal said. “That’s been fun to see. It’s just fun to watch them progress over the last three years.”
Now, merely being a state tournament qualifier may not be enough for the rapidly rising Wizards.
“We came into this season knowing that we were going to be a state championship contender,” Windsor senior Garrett Hammond said. “We just have to keep working, keep playing defense, keep pitching and keep hitting — and I’m sure that we’ll accomplish that goal (of contending).”
The Wizards’ ascension toward being a 4A contender started months ago, Starck said.
“We had a huge offseason, so we were pretty ready (for this spring),” he said. “It hasn’t all come at once.”
Still, even with heightened expectations and a near-flawless record, Deal has cautioned his players to not get ahead of themselves.
“I can’t even look past tomorrow,” Deal said. “My goal is that we get a little better each day, and then we’ll see what happens. But, right now, I just want to try to get better tomorrow and work on the things we didn’t do well.”