Training for the baseball season is more than hitting and fielding drills and throwing in the bullpen.
Tucson High School’s baseball team, which begins practice for the 2022 season on Monday, is an example of what schools are doing more of these days to prepare for the season.
The Badgers, under fourth-year coach Mark Morris, have trained regularly at Jet Sports Training with Jose Felix, a coach at the facility, leading the Badgers though the series of workouts.
“I’m looking for an extra edge,” Morris said. “I don’t have that training, speed and agility (background). I’m a baseball guy. Partnering with Jose, and I get 35 to 40 guys in here, it’s been fantastic. They work their tails off. He does a great job with the program.
“I’ve seen a huge difference in their strength and speed so far is what we’re looking for.”
The Badgers’ varsity and junior varsity teams take part in the workouts at Jet Sports Training. Their training sessions with Jet Sports Training will continue during the season at Cherry Field on Wednesdays.
Morris has coached the Badgers to a 36-17 record in three seasons including a 6A Desert Southwest title last year and a 6A Metro championship in 2019.
Tucson was unable to get past the first round of the state playoffs both seasons, which provides impetus for Morris’ 12 seniors, many of whom will play in college.
Three of the standougs who have signed are infielder Nick Arias (son of former Pueblo, Pima and Arizona star George Arias), first baseman Mario Bejarano and third baseman Benji Cazares. Nick Arias is headed to Grand Canyon, Bejarano to Central Arizona College and Cazares to Pima College.
The Badgers’ season starts Feb. 23-26 with the Chris Moon Memorial Tournament.
The event is held annually in honor of the Chris Moon, the former Tucson High and Arizona baseball standout who lost his life in 2010 while in combat in Afghanistan in the war against terrorism.
The opening ceremonies on Feb. 23 when Tucson plays Sahuaro will include a memorial honor for Troy Iturralde, a Class of 2023 Badger pitcher who passed away last month from Stage 4 testicular cancer that was diagnosed last April.
“The guys who are closest to him have had a tough time with it,” Morris said. “I’ve had a tough time with it. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. A couple of the kids grew up with him. There are three or four guys who played with Western (Little League) with him. It was hard on them.
“I was proud of them because they actually got up and spoke at the rosary that night. That gave them a little bit of closure, a little bit of a good feeling. I’ve talked to them about playing in Troy’s honor. That’s the only way to honor him is to play like he would, smile like he would and love like he would.”
Morris added that Iturralde will be honored with a tribute on Cherry Field during the ceremonies Feb. 23.
“He’s going to be on the field with us forever,” he said.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.