ELKHART — Expectations were sky high when Concord began the 2014 high school baseball season.
The Minutemen had seven returning letterwinners, including five seniors, from a 2013 team that won 18 games. There were also plenty of talented varsity newcomers.
Concord expected to do big things.
But it seemed like focus was more on the "me" than the Minutemen as a whole in the regular season. With that approach, Concord lost more games than it won.
"Everyone was playing a little bit for themselves," says Matt Williams, a senior second baseman and pitcher. "Everyone wanted to be a .500 hitter with 10 home runs, but that didn't give us what we needed."
Then the light went on.
"One morning, all the seniors came together and had a meeting," says Duncan Boone, a senior center fielder and lead-off hitter. We talked about what we needed to do to get better and what we needed to do going forward. From then on, it was like night and day."
From then on, teammates cheered one another on and the focus became on things like executing with runners in scoring position.
"We have each other's backs and that gives us confidence," says Williams. "If one person messes up, the other person will back them up."
The challenge at Elkhart Sectional time was to put three solid games together and take the program's fourth overall title and first since 2009.
Coach Jim Treadway’s Minutemen (15-15) did just that, topping Elkhart Central 6-1 in the first round, Elkhart Memorial 7-2 in the semifinals and Warsaw 2-1 for the championship and a berth in the LaPorte Regional on Saturday, June 7.
All the scoring in the Concord-Warsaw game came in the first two innings. The Tigers scored once in the top of the first and the Minutemen countered with single runs in the first and second and held on — even through a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth inning — to prevail.
"We were all on the edge, but in the end, we knew we were going find a way to pull it out," says Boone.
Senior Nick DeFreese was the winning pitcher against Central and Warsaw. Junior Brenden Curry tossed a complete game against Memorial and picked up the save against Warsaw. Both right-handers gutted through pain to help propel their team.
Junior catcher Jake Vernon admires the talents of both DeFreese and Curry.
"(DeFreese) likes to take his time and throw where he wants to throw," says Vernon. "That's the good thing about him.
"(Curry) did a real good job of finishing the (Warsaw) game for us."
Concord plays Lake Central in the first regional semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday, June 7, followed by Hobart against Penn. The regional final is slated for 8 p.m.